As Jivi launches, Bayer cuts 227 workers at U.S. plant that produces hemophilia treatment

Bayer
German drugmaker Bayer is laying off workers at a plant in California which makes all three of its hemophilia factor VIII replacement therapies. (Bayer)

Bayer’s recently approved weekly hemophilia treatment Jivi gives patients far more flexibility than those that need to be taken every day or so. It is proving to be less beneficial to more than 225 workers at Bayer’s complex in California that produces the drug.

The German drugmaker acknowledged on Wednesday that it is laying off workers at the facility in Berkeley as it reorganizes the manufacturing of its hemophilia factor VIII replacement therapies to gain efficiencies.  

"This site is responsible for producing all three of Bayer’s rFVIII therapies, including Jivi, which was recently approved in the U.S. and Japan," Bayer said in an emailed statement. "Our transition into commercial production with three products has resulted in the need for organizational changes to enable these efficiencies, and today we notified 227 employees that their positions were being eliminated as part of this reorganization."

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Bayer said the cuts will not affect availability of any of its products.

RELATED: Amid fierce competition in hemophilia, Bayer scores FDA nod for its long-acting drug Jivi

Jivi enters a market far more complicated than when Bayer began developing it in 2010. Its dosing is flexible. In trials, it was given either twice per week, once every five days or once every seven days, or on-demand when patients had bleeds. But Jivi faces competition from treatments sold by Shire and Sanofi, which just completed its $11.9 billion buyout of hemophilia-focused Bioverativ. Meanwhile, sales of Bayer's two other treatments, Kogenate and Kovaltry, have fallen in recent quarters. 

More daunting is Roche’s antibody-based treatment Hemlibra, which last year scored approval to treat patients who've developed factor VIII inhibitors after using replacement therapies. Analysts believe the drug will pull in $2 billion by 2025. Today it nabbed an FDA approval for all aged patients without those inhibitors.

The layoffs in Berkeley, where Bayer had more than 1,300 employees before the cuts, come after big expansions to its hemophilia treatment manufacturing there and in Germany. In 2015, it pledged $100 million to expand its biologics manufacturing operation in Berkeley and research base in San Francisco. That U.S. investment came after it began investing in a $700 million initiative to build new hemophilia-focused manufacturing operations in Germany.