Sanofi to grow sales force over 10% in 2005

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Sanofi-Aventis will likely grow its U.S. sales force by upwards of 10 percent in 2005, according to executive vice president, pharmaceutical operations Hanspeter Spek, while advertising and other promotional spend will grow by a far smaller percentage.
Spek tempered his comments, made during a March 21 presentation of R&D news in New York, with a bleak assessment of the sales force arms race, noting the stare-down between rivals Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline over who would begin making reductions first. But Spek said Sanofi-Aventis would need to expand some specialty field forces – notably CNS – to keep up with a raft of launches expected in 2005 and 2006.
At the end of 2004, the company confirmed it was cutting around 700 global sales and marketing positions at its U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J. The posts, for Aventis brands, are being moved to the company's Paris headquarters.
Senior vice president and CFO Jean Claude Leroy said the company will increase research and development expenditures to 15.6 percent of sales, or ˆ4 billion, in 2005, and said Sanofi-Aventis has 48 molecules in late stage development, with 10 compounds slated to show results in Phase II-B or III clinical trials this year.
Asked his views on DTC advertising, Spek said "The industry has to be more careful on topics and language," but said he is comfortable with the company's consumer advertising, citing Ambien ads as an example of responsible advertising. Other Sanofi products heavily advertised in the U.S. include Allegra and Plavix, a co-promote with Bristol-Myers Squibb.
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