Lundbeck announces plans to cut a fifth of R&D workforce

Lundbeck has announced plans to cut its research and development team, which could lead to a reduction of up to 160 jobs from an 800-strong department. 

The company said it would make the changes as part of its “expand and invest to grow strategy” and will be subject to consultation. 

If the changes are carried through it could lead to a reduction of 130-160 positions globally, including around 100 in Denmark where the company is based. 

CEO Deborah Dunsire took the reins in 2018 after Kåre Schultz left to take the top seat at Teva and has already made some decisions to revamp the pharma company. 

In February Lundbeck got its migraine prevention drug Vyepti (eptinezumab) approved by the FDA, the last of a gang of four injected calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) drugs to hit the market. 

Originally developed by Alder BioPharmaceuticals, Lundbeck added the drug to its pipeline by buying the US biotech for around $1.95 billion late last year. 

Teva, Eli Lilly, and Amgen/Novartis already have calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) class migraine drugs on the market, but Lundbeck is hoping to differentiate itself from the competition with an intravenous formulation taken in a clinic instead of self-injected with a pen. 

While there are hopes that Vyepti could generate blockbuster-level revenues, the company still relies on several mental health drugs for its revenue, which have been on the market for several years. 

The US patent on Lundbeck’s schizophrenia drug Abilify Maintena (aripiprazole) is due to expire in 2022, opening up one of its most important revenue sources to cheaper generic competition. 

The Copenhagen-based pharma said it plans to optimise its R&D organisation as it focuses on building a presence in neuroscience. 

This includes expanding its pipeline of new medicines to treat brain disorders, focusing on the most promising research where Lundbeck can have “world class expertise” the company said. 

Dr Johan Luthmanexecutive vice president, R&D at Lundbeck, said: “The proposed changes will allow us to fully execute on our strategy in the years to come and rebuild our pipeline with innovative programs with strong potential to deliver highly impactful treatments for patients with brain disorders. Through this we will support Lundbeck in becoming the premier neuroscience company, globally.” 

Lundbeck has informed its Works Council and its European Works Council about the restructuring plans.

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