Avanir, Strides are laying off US employees as Sanofi eyes early retirements in Korea: report

From sea to shining sea, pharma layoffs are happening in the United States, according to Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) filings.

In California, Avanir Pharmaceuticals will let go (PDF) of 109 employees, effective on New Year’s Eve, as part of the firm's absorption into its parent company Otsuka of Japan. And in New York, Strides Pharma will lay off 88 at its manufacturing site in Chestnut Ridge. That move takes effect on Jan. 27 of next year.

Meanwhile, Sanofi plans to downsize its workforce in Korea through a voluntary early retirement program, according to report from the Korea Biomedical Review.

The Avanir move comes after a smaller layoff round of 16 at the company, which took effect earlier this month and was revealed in a WARN notice.

Less than two weeks ago, Otsuka annunced that Avanir had become "integrated" into Otsuka's U.S.. holding company Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals in a move that becomes effective on New Year's Day.

Avanir is dedicated to research and development of therapies for central nervous system disorders. The company sold itself to Otsuka for $3.5 billion in 2015.

Shortly afterward, Avanir came under scrutiny from the Department of Justice for its marketing of Nuedexta, a drug to treat pseudobulbar effect (PDE), a neurological condition. In 2019, Avanir agreed to a $116 million settlement to resolve the federal case. And in 2020, Avanir laid off 140 California employees, according to another WARN notice.

As for the layoffs from India-based Strides, the company’s reason for the move was listed as a “business restructuring.” Strides did not respond to a request for comment.

In August of last year, Strides said it was expanding U.S. operations beyond its sites in Florida and New Jersey through the purchase of a former Endo plant in Chestnut Ridge. The company said at the time that it would retain its 215 employees and invest $42 million in the plant in a move that would add 40 jobs.

Sanofi’s move comes after the company sparred this year with a Korean labor union, which was unhappy over the company’s 1.5% pay increase after it had asked for a 7% bump.

A union leader told the KBR that the early retirement program was negotiated through the company and its details would be revealed to employees in a Thursday town hall-style meeting.