San Diego Business Journal

San Diego-based drug maker Santarus Inc. has launched a new medication to treat patients with ulcerative colitis, and has expanded its sales force to accommodate the move.

The company has hired 85 new sales representatives, bringing its total sales team to 235. The company will also deploy a patient outreach program, using social media and medical information websites to provide patients with information about treatment options.

“We recognize that informing patients with ulcerative colitis about Uceris is key to motivating them to seek treatment for the active phase of their disease,” said William Denby, senior vice president of commercial operations for Santarus, in a statement.

The drug, called Uceris, was developed in collaboration with Cosmo Technologies Ltd., the Irish subsidiary of Italian drug company Cosmo Pharmaceuticals S.p.A. Upon first commercial sale of the drug, Santarus will pay Cosmo $7 million in cash or Santarus common stock.

The company’s market cap is $827.5 million.

Uceris, an extended-release pill meant for patients with mild to moderate forms of the disease, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month. Clinical studies found that three times more patients entered remission when taking the once-daily drug than those given placebos. Side effects mirrored those seen with other types of colitis treatments.

Ulcerative colitis affects about 700,000 in the U.S., according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

— Meghana Keshavan