Amylin sharpens axe for 200 rep cuts

More pharma reps face the axe. This time it's Amylin Pharmaceuticals that's cutting back on the sales side, with plans to shrink the force by 35 percent, or 200 jobs. That's on top of a previous trim of 16 percent companywide.

The impetus: Byetta. Amylin aims to integrate marketing of the diabetes med with its partner Eli Lilly, anticipating--or hoping for-- the imminent launch of the once-weekly form of Byetta, which now awaits the FDA's final OK. And as always with job cuts, the cost savings matters, too. Amylin estimates that the reduction-in-force will save some $45 million annually by 2010. As Amylin CEO Daniel Bradbury says, that savings fits in with the company's goal of posting positive operating cash flow by the end of next year. (Even dissident shareholder Carl Icahn must agree with that aspiration.)

After the cuts, the company's sales force will be 325 strong, and its reps will concentrate on endocrinologists and other docs with large stables of diabetes patients. That leaves Lilly to zero in on the primary-care market. "This new, more focused approach ... will enable us to improve the quality of our interactions with core prescribers through more efficient and frequent interactions," Bradbury said in a statement.

Amylin will take a $13 million to $15 million restructuring charge for Q2 from the cuts. No word on exactly when the axe will fall. At least Amylin's reps will be in good company; as you know, most of Big Pharma and lots of smaller companies have slashed their sales forces over the past year.

- read Amylin's release