UPDATED: Eisai to shed 200-plus jobs as it pares down U.S. workforce

Just a couple of weeks after fellow Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo announced a layoffs drive as part of a U.S. revamp, Eisai is doing the same. Two of its units in the country are headed for a 25% shrinkage, the company said Thursday.

The chopped jobs--about 215 in number--will come from the company's commercial and regional corporate services units, Eisai spokeswoman Suzanne Grogan told FiercePharma via email. The restructuring will hit hardest at Eisai's Woodcliff Lake, NJ, base, but it will also affect some field-based employees and "a handful" of workers at offices in Andover, MA, Baltimore, MD, Research Triangle Park, NC, and Washington, DC.

With the new structure expected to be in place by May 1 of this year, the pharma anticipates becoming more "efficient and focused," it said.

"The actions we are taking will ensure Eisai stays competitive in a rapidly changing business environment," Yuji Matsue, CEO of U.S. subsidiary Eisai Inc., said in a statement. "Through this realignment, we will be able to redeploy our resources to support the development of our priority late-stage compounds and our current product portfolio."

That current product portfolio has faced some hardships as of late. The company is still trying to rebound from patent losses on some of its top sellers, including Alzheimer's drug Aricept and acid reflux treatment AcipHex.

Recent launches Belviq and Fycompa have come with their issues, too; Belviq has seen sluggish uptake in a burgeoning obesity market, and now it's got new competitors on the scene from Novo Nordisk ($NVO) and a Takeda/Orexigen ($OREX) team. Meanwhile, amid a year-plus launch delay for Fycompa in the U.S., Germany's cost watchdogs last November said they would only cover the epilepsy med if it was priced on par with generics.

And while the recent approval of thyroid cancer therapy Lenvima is a bright spot--the drug will rack up blockbuster numbers, Eisai vowed in February--whether it reaches its full potential will depend on the company's ability to collect additional indications--in liver, kidney and lung cancers, for example.

Eisai isn't the only Japanese drugmaker in the midst of a restructuring. Last month, local rival Daiichi Sankyo said it would pare down the workforce at its commercial headquarters by 16%. And Takeda has been regrooming since mid-2013, a year in which it announced up to 1,500 cuts.

- read Eisai's release

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