Acorda slashes jobs again as generics hamper sales of MS drug

Acorda Therapeutics has reduced staff several times over the years after multiple setbacks ranging from FDA hurdles to lower-than-forecasted sales and generics competition. (Acorda on Twitter)

Hit by a mounting decline in sales for multiple sclerosis drug Ampyra and just a sliver of the expected revenue for Parkinson's drug Inbrija, Acorda Therapeutics is once again slashing jobs and restructuring.

Acorda last reduced headcount by 16% in January when Inbrija manufacturing operations in Massachusetts were offloaded to Catalent for $80 million in cash. That came after the company cut 25% of its workforce in October 2019. 

The pharma continues to reel from generic competitors to Ampyra, while Inbrija is nowhere near an $800 million sales goal, so Acorda is now laying off 15% of its workforce. The Ardsley, New York-based pharma will make most of the layoffs immediately, with the remaining cuts coming in the first quarter of next year. An estimated $20 million is expected to be saved annually as a result. 

That figure is about equivalent to Ampyra's net revenue in the second quarter. The MS drug pulled in $21.8 million, a decrease from the $26.1 million generated in the same period last year, Acorda reported last month. Sales of Ampyra have steadily declined as generics took over when the branded drug lost exclusivity in September 2018. Sales were $455 million in 2018 but slumped to $163 million in 2019 and again dipped to $98.9 million for full-year 2020. 

RELATED: Under-the-gun Acorda slashes Inbrija sales forecast amid lackluster launch

While Inbrija's net revenue for the second quarter grew year over year, at $6.4 million compared to $4.7 million, the drug is still a long way from what Acorda once predicted. The initial goal was a lofty $800 million, then a lackluster first-year performance blamed on reimbursement issues caused the company to downgrade its outlook to between $350 million and $500 million. Then, Acorda said 2020 sales would likely be somewhere between $35 million and $40 million. 

The actual 2020 haul? About $10 million below the low range of the forecast. Acorda reported $24.2 million in sales, which did beat the $15.3 million collected for full-year 2019. 

Acorda does see a light at the end of the tunnel for Ibrija, though. CEO Ron Cohen, M.D., said during earnings last month that "the impact of the pandemic is moderating" and the company is "in active discussions with several parties" to commercialize Inbrija in other regions of Europe and the world. Inbrija will enter the market in Spain in the fourth quarter of 2022 under an agreement with Esteve Pharmaceuticals, announced in July. 

RELATED: Battered Acorda pulls off delayed Parkinson’s approval for Inbrija

Acorda also shifted its leadership Thursday. Chief Commercial Officer Lauren Sabella becomes chief operating officer, and Executive Vice President of Sales Kerry Clem takes over the commercial role. 

Investors appear to see a slight upside to the news. Acorda's shares were up 3.26% to $4.48 a piece as of 11:11 a.m. ET.