Bristol-Myers Squibb nixes 58 marketing jobs as HIV medications near patent cliff

Bristol-Myers
Six of the workers set to lose their posts in Bristol-Myers HIV unit live in New Jersey, while 52 work remotely.

Bristol-Myers Squibb will soon bid farewell to its exclusive lock on a pair of HIV drugsand, as a result, 58 workers will bid farewell to their jobs.

The company is “making changes to our HIV portfolio business” in anticipation of end-of-year generic competition, a spokeswoman said via email, and those changes include nixing all commercial backing for the HIV lineup in the U.S. Effective Oct. 6, “all dedicated U.S field sales and home office positions supporting the HIV portfolio will be eliminated,” the spokeswoman said.

RELATED: Eli Lilly targets sales force for job cuts in wake of Alzheimer's failure

Six of the employees work at Bristol-Myers’ Princeton Pike facility, and the other 52 are remote workers scattered across the country who report to managers located at Princeton Pike, the spokeswoman said, noting that “Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to ensuring colleagues are treated fairly and with respect throughout this period of transition.”

The two meds each brought in big bucks last year, though they’ve been on the decline for a few years now, thanks to new-and-improved options from field leaders Gilead Sciences and GlaxoSmithKline. Reyataz slipped below the blockbuster benchmark in 2016, churning out $912 milliona dip from 2015’s $1.14 billion and 2014’s $1.36 billion. But it may be able to hang onto sales around the world; the brand is expected to lose exclusivity in the EU between 2017 and 2019, and it’ll fend off generic competitors beginning in 2019 in Japan.

RELATED: Top 10 U.S. patent losses of 2017 - Sustiva

As for Sustiva, it managed $1.07 billion last year, down from $1.25 billion in 2015 and $1.44 billion the year prior. And $901 million of that haul came in the U.S., which means that chunk of sales will be in jeopardy beginning at the end of this year.

Sustiva’s composition of matter patent expired back in 2013, according to Bristol’s annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and its method patent fell off the following September. Other patents were part of a court dispute, though, and that settled in October 2014.

Bristol has also managed to extend the med’s lifetime through pediatric exclusivity, which adds an additional 6 months of safety. After that runs out in November, though, generics makers Teva, Emcure, Strides, Aurobindo and others will be raring to go with copies for which they’ve already earned tentative approvals.