Lundbeck embarks on another restructuring, with more layoffs possible

Lundbeck may be adding to the pharma layoff toll with another restructuring plan. After announcing plans to cut 600 jobs and revamp its European operations last year, the company now says it's aiming to "optimize" and "simplify" its commercial structure with an overhaul that could cost 50 to 55 more positions.

The Danish drugmaker says it's dividing its commercial operations into 6 regions: Europe, the U.S., Canada, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East/Global. Part of the reason for this is Lundbeck's ambitions for emerging markets; the company said in a statement that the new structure "ensures full focus on growth markets." The company recently inaugurated its first plant in China, with plans to launch three to 5 new drugs there.

Meanwhile, the company is streamlining its European commercial operations by organizing more than 30 affiliates into 10 business units. The changes are designed to amp up Lundbeck's ability to launch new medicines in the region. The company recently won European approval for its alcohol addiction drug Selincro, and rolled it out in Norway, Finland, Poland and the Baltic countries. Other European launches are still to come.

The latest restructuring also includes some streamlining in administration and along the supply chain, plus some other cost cuts. "The overall aim of the program is to reduce complexity, increase organizational efficiency and free up resources to invest in Lundbeck's many new medicines and global growth platform," the company said in a statement.

Selincro isn't the only drug Lundbeck has its eye on launching. In March, FDA approved Lundbeck's long-acting version of Abilify, which Lundbeck will market in partnership with Japan's Otsuka. It's touting a host of data on its prospective antidepressant, Brintellix, which is awaiting FDA approval. And it scored a new $825 million collaboration deal with Otsuka on its Alzheimer's drug candidate Lu AE58054, which is one of its top three development programs. New Phase III studies on that drug are slated to begin later this year.

Lundbeck will need all the help from new drugs that it can get. Peak sales estimates for Selincro ($300 million) and Abilify Maintena ($800 million) add up to $1.1 billion, but that won't fully compensate for generic competition for its blockbuster antidepressant Cipralex. The company also has seen its royalty income on the antidepressant, licensed to Forest Laboratories ($FRX) in the U.S., fall off sharply after its patent expired.

- see the announcement from Lundbeck

Special Report: Lundbeck - Top 10 Pharma Layoffs of 2012