Pernix Therapeutics Slashes Staff to Shake Up Sales Strategy

Xconomy New York — 

Pernix Therapeutics is slashing its headcount by more than 20 percent as the specialty pharmaceutical company tries to move toward profitability after a streak of acquisitions.

Morristown, NJ-based Pernix (NASDAQ: PTX) will cut 60 workers, mostly from its neurology sales staff, the company said today. As of the end of 2015, Pernix reported a headcount of 274. The remaining neurology and pain sales staff will operate under the same management, a streamlining move that the company hopes will help the company better target the key physicians who prescribe the company’s products. Pernix anticipates $10 million in annual savings from the cuts starting in the third quarter of this year.

Pernix’s drug portfolio includes pain killer hydrocodone bitartrate (Zohydro), which it acquired last year from San Diego-based Zogenix (NASDAQ: ZGNX) for $100 million, and outside-of the United States rights to the combination pill sumatriptan and naproxen sodium (Treximet), a migraine headache drug originally developed by Chapel Hill, NC-based Pozen. In 2014, Pernix, then based in The Woodlands, TX, acquired San Diego-based Somaxon Pharmaceuticals. That deal added Somaxon’s insomnia drug doxepin (Silenor) to the Pernix product mix.

Those acquisitions helped Pernix reach $175.8 million in net revenue last year, its highest sales mark since becoming a public company in 2010, according to its annual report. But filings also show the company’s net losses widening each year since 2012. Last year, Pernix reported a $148.3 million net loss. Consequently, Pernix’s stock price has suffered. Last month, Pernix disclosed that it risked delisting from the Nasdaq because its stock price had fallen below $1.

Pernix said that it expects to take a one-time $2 million charge related to the restructuring. The company added that, as of today, it is in compliance with all of its debt arrangements.

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