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Salix Pharmaceuticals to expand its sales force

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Salix Pharmaceuticals is planning to expand its sales force as the company prepares to win regulatory approval for new medicines that treat gastrointestinal ailments.

The Morrisville company already has 96 salespeople, but wants to hire and train 64 more this year.

There are now a handful of Triangle companies looking to boost their business as they bet the worst of the recession is over. Last week, ChannelAdvisor of Research Triangle Park announced plans to hire about 25 salespeople and other workers by the end of the year.

Salix is adding sales staff as the company awaits Food and Drug Administration approval for a drug to treat a type of stomach disease called gastroparesis.
Salix already sells drugs to treat ulcerative colitis, travelers' diarrhea and other diseases, making it one of the few local drug makers with products approved for patients. Salix also is seeking FDA approval for several other drugs.

The new sales force will have a "small impact" on revenue this year and a bigger impact in 2010, said chief financial officer Adam Derbyshire said on a conference call with analysts.

The company also plans to begin seeking a partner later this year that would help promote a new treatment for irritable bowel disease with physicians.

On Monday, Salix also reported that second-quarter revenue rose to $52.2 million, up 27 percent from a year earlier. The company reported a net loss of $15.3 million, or 32 cents a share, widening a $7.1 million loss last year.

The company expects to be profitable in 2010, Derbyshire said.

Salix released its financial results after the close of regular stock-market trading, when its shares rose 11 cents to $12.72. The stock has more than doubled since early March.

Company officials, including CEO Carolyn Logan, discussed the earnings Monday afternoon. Listen to a replay online at Salix's Web site.

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About the blogger

Assistant Business Editor Alan M. Wolf joined the N&O in 1999 covering the business of health care. He became an editor in 2001, and helps oversee the paper's daily business coverage and Sunday Work&Money section. He lives in Clayton with his wife and two children. Reach him at 919-829-4572 or e-mail him.