In downsizing mode, Sage will move headquarters to a smaller space

Two months ago, in presenting quarterly earnings, CEO Barry Greene said Sage Therapeutics was on its way to becoming a “leaner and stronger company.”

Part of that mission will come to fruition later this year with a move of its headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Sage will shift from its 63,017-square-foot headquarters to a 30,567-square-foot office three blocks away, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Sage’s new residence will be at 55 Cambridge Parkway, the same address as life sciences investment company Flagship Pioneering, overlooking the Charles River.

Sage will make the move on Aug. 31, when its lease expires on its headquarters at 215 First Street and an additional 40,419 square foot space, next door at 245 First Street. Rent at the new spot comes to $224,158 per month for first year, with the initial term of the lease running through 2029, Sage said in the filing.

Sage’s downsizing comes five months after the company revealed that it was laying off 40% of its staff, following the disappointing news that the FDA had rejected its Biogen-partnered pill Zurzuvae to treat for major depressive disorder (MDD).

But along with the rejection came an approval from the U.S. regulator in a much smaller indication, postpartum depression (PPD). Sage launched Zurzuvae last month, with the company’s future riding on the sales of the drug, which is the first oral treatment for PPD.  

During Sage's third-quarter earnings call, Greene said the company still believes Zurzuvae has “blockbuster potential.” But he acknowledged sales will likely scale slowly as PPD remains an under-diagnosed condition.

When the FDA came up with its split decision on Zurzuvae, analysts pointed out that MDD would have offered a “meaningfully larger opportunity,” with projected 2030 sales of about $1.3 billion. That compares with roughly $200 million for PPD.

A few weeks after the FDA decision, Sage revealed its plan to lop off 40% of its workforce, pare down its pipeline and shake up its C-suite, with pink slips for chief scientific officer Al Robichaud, Ph.D., chief development officer Jim Doherty and senior VP of medical affairs Mark Pollack.

With the declining prospects of Zurzuvae there has been speculation that Biogen would exit the partnership, but earlier this month at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, CEO Chris Viehbacher sounded enthusiastic about its potential, calling the unmet need “phenomenal” and adding that there is “upside here.”

“When Zurzuvae got approved, we had this unprecedented media wave. I mean, it has been in Time Magazine, on CBS, something like 5 billion media impressions,” Viehbacher said. “What I am hearing from our U.S. team is essentially we are at the crossroads of two major societal trends on women's health and mental health. We have come up with a commercial plan, which I think recognizes that. We have to build this market and we can do this profitably.”