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PDI showing early signs of recovery

By Kirsty Barnes , 01-Jun-2006

Troubled contract sales and marketing firm PDI has recently won a much-needed new sales contract and made two new top executive appointments as part of ongoing efforts to turn its flagging business around.

The firm recently announced that a new agreement was now in place to provide contract sales services for a major, undisclosed pharmaceutical company in a deal expected to reap in $35-$40m in revenue over its one-year term.

"Our recent new business win demonstrates the success of our strengthened business development and marketing efforts," said Steven Budd, PDI's President.

 

PDI has also now managed to find a replacement for its former CEO, Charles Saldarini, who left the struggling firm last October, as well as a replacement for executive vice president and CFO Bernard Boyle, who also left the company last year to retire.

 

Michael Marquard, an industry veteran with 30 years experience in firms such as Mylan Laboratories and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, will replace interim CEO Larry Ellberger and Jeffery Smith has left generics firm Pliva to take on the new chief financial position.

 

It is hoped that the new appointments will soon return some stability to the company that has experienced a steady decline in revenue over the past couple of years, partly due to its over-reliance on a few key customers and its lack of focus on trying to diversify and expand its client base and business mix, as well as losing several large sales contracts from major clients when their drugs faced marketing challenges, particularly the loss of patent protection.

 

PDI reached a particular low point earlier this year when AstraZeneca pulled the plug on a long-running service contract with the firm. At the time AstraZeneca was PDI's biggest client, and along with GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis, accounted for 50-60 per cent of the company's revenue.

 

The loss added another blow to the firm, which reported a dive from profit to loss in 2005, with a net loss of nearly $20m (€16m), versus net income of $21m in 2004, reflecting the company's underperformance in generating new business.

 

In its most recent first quarter results released in March, PDI reported profits of $5.6m and two new business wins with emerging pharma companies, although revenue was still down four per cent and some of the sales were seasonal and won't be repeated in the coming quarters.

 

"Unless and until we generate sufficient sales teams or other new business to offset the loss of the AstraZeneca programme which was terminated effective April 30, 2006, and accounted for $28.3m in revenue for this quarter, these results will not be duplicated in upcoming quarters," said Larry Ellberger, PDI's interim CEO said at the time.

 

It appears with this new sales contract in place that the firm has now made a positive start.

 

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