Coherus again axes staff, with 30% of roles on chopping block amid 'sharpened focus' on cancer drugs

About a year after launching a prior round of layoffs, Coherus BioSciences is again reducing its head count, this time by 30%.

Coherus unveiled the latest job cuts Wednesday alongside its full-year 2023 financial results. The company was previously left with about 300 employees after a reduction last March forced 60 staffers out of the door.

The latest round of cuts started March 7. Coherus aims to complete the reductions by the end of the year and save more than $25 million in annual costs.

The layoffs come as a result of a “sharpened focus” in oncology and a subsequent restructuring, Coherus said. The company in January announced that it will sell its ophthalmology franchise surrounding its Lucentis biosimilar to Sandoz for $170 million in cash. The latest job cuts include 35 employees as part of the ophthalmology divestiture.

The Lucentis copycat, branded as Cimerli, generated $52 million in fourth-quarter sales for Coherus, bringing its full-year total to $125 million.

Udenyca, the other biosimilar product in Coherus’ portfolio, references Amgen’s Neulasta. The biosim generated $36 million in the fourth quarter, down from $38 million in the same period last year, but up sequentially.

An on-body autoinjector presentation of Udenyca was approved by the FDA toward the end of 2023, and Coherus just launched that version in February. In just a few weeks, 138 accounts have already orded the on-body product, Coherus Chief Commercial Officer Paul Reider said during a call Wednesday. Citing IQVIA data, Coherus said Udenyca held about 26% of the U.S. market share as of March 1.

Coherus is rebranding itself from a biosimilar developer to an innovative cancer drug player. The Junshi Biosciences-partnered PD-1 inhibitor Loqtorzi is leading that charge. After a first-in-class FDA approval in nasopharyngeal carcinoma in October, Coherus launched Loqtorzi at the beginning of 2024.

Still, the company recorded $600,000 in Loqtorzi sales in the fourth quarter from wholesaler stockpiling, Reider said. The PD-1 latecomer has received payer coverage under its label for about 95% of targeted patients, he added.

In the first few weeks of its launch, Coherus saw 59 targeted nasopharyngeal cancer accounts ordering Loqtorzi, and the company described the uptake as “tracking to expectations.”

To further help strengthen Coherus’ capital position, the California company has agreed with Junshi to delay and potentially reduce a $25 million milestone payment that was previously due in the first quarter.

Now, Coherus is slated to pay its Chinese partner $12.5 million by June and the rest in the first quarter of 2025, with the possibility to cut back on the second tranche by selling the drug’s Canadian rights, the company said.