Matthew Pfeffer, CEO of MannKind Corporation displays the Afrezza inhaler in the company's Valencia office. Photo by Jonathan Pobre.
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MannKind Corp. will hold a special shareholders’ meeting later this month, part of an effort to avoid having its shared removed from the Nasdaq stock market.

The biopharmaceutical company also is revamping its sales force to try to boost sluggish sales of Afrezza, its inhalable form of insulin.

The stock has traded below $1 a share since last August. Nasdaq gave the company notice in September that it would delisted unless its stock closed above $1 per share for 10 consecutive trading days by March 13, 2017.

“We cannot and will not allow the company to be delisted,” MannKind CEO Matthew Pfeffer said Wednesday in a conference call with investors last week.

The company will ask shareholders at the special meeting Feb. 24 at its Valencia headquarters to allow a reverse stock split. This reduces the number of shares in the company, which increases the price of each share. The company’s market capitalization is not changed.

Last year, MannKind scrambled to market Afrezza by contracting out the sales effort after a marketing agreement with Sanofi ended.

“By July we had an admittedly modest contract sales force out in the field selling MannKind-branded Afrezza,” Pfeffer said. “It was necessarily modest to get it out there quickly,” he said, adding that during that stretch, “we were working somewhat on fumes financially.”

Now the company has hired its own sales force. “We’ve hired well over 80 people over the last four weeks,” said Michael Castagna, MannKind’s chief commercial officer on the conference call. The company will add another ten to twelve positions.

The new sales team will be in the field starting next week.

MannKind has also changed how it packages Afrezza to make it easier for physicians to prescribe it and offer patients greater dosing flexibility and lower copayments. It also expanding the number of diabetes nurses providing patient counseling to try to increase patient compliance, and is boosting the company’s social media outreach.

“The new package, along with our new sales force expansion and nurse educator model, will enable us to make a stronger impact in how we market Afrezza without dramatically increasing our cost structure,” Pfeffer said.

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Patrick Mullen
After growing up in Syracuse, N.Y., and living in Cleveland for two decades, Patrick Mullen is enjoying Southern California’s weather, even with the rain. He covered the health care industry for 15 years, with a focus on managed care.
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