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Lundbeck axes staff in revamp of its R&D

Company’s domestic workforce will bear the brunt of the cuts

Lundbeck HQ

Danish drugmaker Lundbeck has said it plans to axe up to 160 jobs worldwide as part of a retooling of its R&D operations, with its domestic workforce bearing the brunt of the cuts.

The specialist in central nervous system therapies says that, all told, 130 to 160 jobs will go, including about 100 in Denmark, as part of a drive to “rebuild our development portfolio with innovative projects”.

Lundbeck’s total headcount is 5,800 around the world, so the layoffs represent less than 3% of its total workforce. It had just under 1,800 employees in Denmark at the end of last year, so the domestic losses will be felt more keenly.

The decision comes shortly after Lundbeck announced it was discontinuing development of its Parkinson’s disease candidate foliglurax – acquired along with Pexton Pharma in 2018 – after the drug missed all its objective in the phase 2 study.

Lundbeck paid €100m upfront for Merck Serono spinout Pexton, with another €805m tied to foliglurax development and sales milestones. However, that was just the latest in a series of recent setbacks, which left the company with gaps in its late-stage pipeline.

Other casualties included Alzheimer’s disease candidate idalopirdine, Lu AF35700 for treatment-resistant schizophrenia, and brexpiprazole for bipolar disorder

New chief executive Deborah Dunsire – who joined the company in mid-2018 with a pledge to spend $4bn to $5bn on bolt-on deals – has already added a series of new compounds to the portfolio since taking the helm.

Chief among these was the purchase of Alder Biopharma last year for $2bn, tucking in late-stage migraine therapy Vyepti (eptinezumab) – which is launching in competition with rival drugs from Amgen, Eli Lilly and Teva.

Dunsire also pressed go on a $400m purchase of Abide Therapeutics, adding a drug for Tourette’s syndrome and neuropathic pain called Lu AG06466, although Lundbeck was forced to abandon development in Tourette’s after it failed a phase 2a trial in March.

Meanwhile, apart from its R&D portfolio, there has also been some bad news for Lundbeck. Last week, a top EU court adviser said the company’s appeal over a $94m ‘pay-for-delay’ judgment concerning generic copies of its antidepressant citalopram should be rejected and the fine upheld.

In a statement on the new plans, Lundbeck said  these will include focusing its R&D efforts “where the science is most promising and on biological platforms where Lundbeck can have world class expertise”.

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th June 2020

From: Healthcare

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