In 1Q17, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) had 40% more sales personnel to promote its gastrointestinal franchise than it did in 1Q16. This was a result of the company’s efforts to control attrition.
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The above diagram shows that Valeant managed to reach a sales force retention rate of 94% in 4Q16. While there was increased attrition in 1Q17, it was anticipated at the onset of the new calendar year.
Controlling the turnover rate is expected to improve productivity and morale at Valeant in 2017. It may have a positive impact on its share price and that of the Global X Top Guru Holdings Index ETF (GURU). Valeant makes up about 0.19% of GURU’s portfolio.
In February 2017, Valeant hired 250 sales representatives to actively promote its gastrointestinal drugs, Xifaxan and Oral Relistor, to primary care physicians. The company expects this development to specifically help Xifaxan expand its penetration in the irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (or IBS-D) segment. This is because 70% of IBS-D patients first approach a primary care physician and only later visit a gastroenterologist. Valeant expects to reach out to physicians, which together make up around 75% of the primary care growth opportunity.
Valeant has also expanded its opioid-induced constipation (or OIC) segment’s sales force team to promote Relistor as a pain-relieving therapy. Furthermore, the company has also set up a nurse educator team that will focus on creating awareness on the use and risks of Relistor. These efforts are expected to enable Valeant to compete with gastrointestinal players GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Allergan (AGN), and Novartis (NVS).
In dermatology, Valeant has been striving to improve its relationships with Walgreens. The company has also been investing capital to expand its manufacturing capabilities at Bausch & Lomb. This investment is expected to add to the company’s contact lens manufacturing capacity and reduce its cost per lens. In the next article, we’ll study growth prospects for Valeant’s Diversified Products business in greater detail.