Amylin lays off 340 as Byetta flags

The layoff pain in pharma isn't limited to the big guns. Amylin Pharmaceuticals yesterday cut 340 staffers--some 25 percent of its workforce--to save $100 million a year. The San Diego drugmaker will be left with 1,800 workers.

Disappointing sales of Amylin's diabetes med, Byetta, prompted the staffing cuts, which will include positions in administration, operations and R&D, CEO Daniel Bradbury told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "The purpose of the reorganization is to really put us in a stronger position as a company to execute our business plan and become cash flow positive by 2010," Bradbury said.

As you know, Byetta ran into a big of a snag in August, when the FDA reported that six patients using the drug had died of pancreatitis. The agency hasn't fingered Byetta as the cause of those deaths, but the med's warning label is in the process of being updated to reflect the new info. Byetta sales dipped in response, though Bradbury said he expects the med to recover soon. Meanwhile, Amylin is negotiating that label update with the FDA, hoping that it doesn't include a "black box" warning.

Amylin sells Byetta in partnership with Eli Lilly, and the two companies are working together to push a new once-weekly version of the med through the FDA approvals process. The two companies recently struck a deal allowing Amylin to borrow up to $165 million from the larger drugmaker provided the new med gets the FDA nod.

- read Amylin's release
- check out the news from San Diego's KRON
- see the Union-Tribune story