After last year's cuts, Biogen kicks off another round of layoffs

After downsizing last year, Biogen is once again moving ahead with layoffs.

In a statement to Fierce Pharma, a company spokesperson said the company recently informed some U.S. staffers "that their roles are being impacted, as a result of decisions designed to optimize our business strategies and align our cost and revenue base."

She declined to detail the number of layoffs or the types of roles that are being affected. The Boston Business Journal reports that Biogen is trimming members of its multiple sclerosis team. 

The affected employees are eligible for severance and in some cases the chance to apply for another role at the company, the spokesperson said.

Biogen’s MS unit has been struggling thanks to generic competition to Tecfidera. The company tried to protect its multibillion-dollar drug through multiple lawsuits and a Supreme Court appeal, but it ultimately came up short in that effort.

Tecfidera’s market exclusivity was originally expected to last through 2028, but, in 2020, Viatris (formally Mylan) succeeded in court in getting a key patent invalidated. Afterward, Viatris launched its copycat in August 2020.

Biogen's attempts at appealing the decision proved futile, as did its last-ditch effort to get the case heard by the Supreme Court.

After generics launched, Tecfidera sales quickly cratered. In 2021, sales came in at $1.95 billion compared with $3.84 billion during the prior year.

In 2022, Tecfidera generated sales of $1.4 billion.

The layoffs follow other rounds of cuts at the drugmaker. Last March, the company let go of more than 100 employees, Endpoints News reported at the time, citing a company executive. That came after the company said it would “substantially eliminate” its commercial structure for controversial Alzheimer’s med Aduhelm, aiming to save $1 billion in costs. 

In a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Biogen said it employed 8,725 people as of Dec. 31, 2022. That was down from 9,610 on the same date in 2021.