Eisai to shave 900 from payroll over five years

Reeling from the loss of patent protection on its top-selling Alzheimer's disease treatment Aricept, Eisai plans to cut 900 jobs over the next five years. The cuts will come in the U.S., Japan and Europe, the company announced after Japanese markets closed today.

Eisai officials are forecasting flat sales over the next five years, predicting revenue of some 800 billion yen, or $9.7 billion, in the year ending March 2016. That's about the same as the 803.1 billion yen posted for last fiscal year and only slightly more than the 770 billion expected for the current one, which ends March 31.

With revenue flat, Eisai says it will have to cut at least 900 jobs to keep margins up as it slashes prices to compete with cheap generic versions of Aricept. The drug fell off patent in November, and given that it accounted for about 40 percent of sales in the most recent fiscal year, marketing it at cut rates will create a big sales gap.

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