Early scripts for female libido pill Addyi fall flat, Valeant left holding the bag
- Sprout Pharma's Addyi launched several weeks ago for treatment of low sexual desire in pre-menopausal women. During that time only 227 prescriptions were dispensed. Compare this to the launch of Viagra in 1998: 500,000 prescriptions were dispensed in the first post-launch month alone.
- Valeant's (which announced a deal to purchase Sprout shortly after Addyi's approval) stock is already trading at a yearly low in the $70 range—down 70% since September.
- Doctors have to be certified in order to prescribe Addyi. So far, only 1% of 35,000 OB/GYN's and 435,000 primary care physicians have become certified, despite the fact that it takes about 10 minutes.
Somewhere there are people shaking their heads and saying, "We told you so." When Addyi was approved in August—two days before Valeant committed to buying Sprout for $1 billion—there were many red flags, including serious side effects such as fainting, drowsiness, and hypotension. Additionally, women were warned not to drink alcohol or take certain hormones while taking Addyi.
This raises a bevy of tough questions. What happened to the 80% of women surveyed by Treato who said they would take a pill to increase sexual desire? And where are the "Even the Score" advocates? Could it be that very few women want to take the drug because the risks don't outweigh the benefits (the efficacy rate has been shown to be as low as 10%), especially given what seems like a very subtle onset of action and modest effects? And how about that black box warning?
Valeant has to quickly figure out how to increase sales, re-tweak marketing efforts, and move forward at the same time it is under pressure from a plummeting stock, federal probes, calls for Congressional testimony, and disgruntled employees. On that front, at least, the company has decided to offer 70 of its employees stock and cash to boost retention.