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Valeant (VRX) Ups Sales Force to Support Xifaxan/Relistor


Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. VRX announced that it is expanding its sales force to reach primary care physicians. The new sales force team is going to promote the company’s two products, Xifaxan for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D) and Relistor for opioid induced constipation (OIC).

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and partner Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. PGNX commercially launched their constipation tablets, Relistor (methylnaltrexone bromide) in the U.S. in September this year. Relistor Tablets (450 mg once daily) were approved to treat OIC in adults with chronic non-cancer pain in July. Progenics has exclusively licensed the development and commercialization rights for Relistor to Valeant.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals and its wholly owned subsidiary, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. received FDA approval for Xifaxan (rifaximin) 550 mg for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D) in adults in May 2015. However, the drug has performed below expectations due to higher managed care rebates. The sales force expansion strategy is aimed at getting at better patient access for the drug.

The company’s share price is down 3.81%, though the Zacks Classified Drugs industry has seen growth of 7.55% in the past one month.

Valeant is a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) stock. It has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in recent times like a price hike of specialty drugs, erroneous financial reporting, and termination of contracts with Philidor Rx Services. The company has also been the subject of a pricing controversy over the last few months with politicians and media focusing on the high pricing of drugs. Adding to its woes, mutual fund investor T. Rowe Price filed a lawsuit against the company. However, Valeant has been quite aggressive on the acquisition front, which has been driving growth. The share price of the company is down more than 80% year to date.

A couple of better-ranked stocks in the healthcare sector include Heska Corporation HSKA, Arbutus Biopharma Corporation ABUS. Heska sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) while Arbutus carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Heska’s earnings estimates increased from $1.13 per share to $1.35 for 2016 and from $1.38 per share to $1.53 for 2017, over the last 60 days. The company posted positive surprises in each of the four trailing quarters, with an average beat of 301.64%. Share price has increased 93.31% year to date for the company.

Arbutus’ loss estimates narrowed from $2.15 to $1.74 per share for 2016 and from $1.96 to $1.51 per share for 2017 over the last 60 days. The company posted positive surprises in three of the trailing four quarters, with an average beat of 59.31%.

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