Troubled Endo shelves cellulite treatment Qwo, lays off 90 employees

Just nine months after launching its “Butt First” campaign—designed to spark sales of its groundbreaking cellulite treatment—troubled Endo has pulled the plug on Qwo (collagenase clostridium histolyticum-aaes).

The Dublin, Ireland-based company said on Tuesday that it will cease production and sale of Qwo because of concerns about injection site bruising and skin discoloration.  

“After careful consideration, we have determined that Qwo does not represent a viable commercial opportunity for Endo,” Blaise Coleman, CEO of Endo, said in a release. “This difficult decision unfortunately results in a workforce reduction.”

Endo will lay of 90 full-time employees in a move that will provide annual savings of $50 million to $60 million, the company said.

It's another blow to the declining fortunes of the company, which filed for bankruptcy in August as it committed to a $450 million settlement to resolve claims that it fueled the opioid crisis through promotion of its painkiller Opana ER, which it pulled from the market in 2017.

In 2020, Endo revealed a plan to cut 560 jobs by 2023 in a restructuring that included exits of plants in California, New York and India. The moves were made as the company was preparing to launch Qwo and counting on its success for a rebound.

Endo will incur a restructuring charge of $235 million to $250 million in this quarter and will seek “any necessary approvals” from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in connection with the decision, Endo added.

Six months ago, Endo kicked off the Aphrodite trial to examine the effects of differing interventions of Qwo.

“Although certain study cohorts’ results reflected a modest reduction of bruising area and severity, none achieved a consistent level of reduced bruising following initial treatment to adequately alleviate the market’s concerns,” Endo said in its release.

The product remains approved and available for use, Endo said, and practices are still welcome to order available stock.

The injected aesthetic treatment, which was the first on the market to target moderate to severe cellulite in the buttocks of adult women, was approved by the FDA in July 2020 but its launch was delayed for nearly a year as Endo waited out the pandemic. 

The company did not disclose a sales figure for Qwo in 2021, listing it among “other specialty products,” which generated sales of $86 million, which was a 7% decrease from 2020. The category took another dip in the first two quarters of this year, falling by 19% year over year to $39 million.