UPDATED: Struggling Eisai will slash 200-plus U.S. jobs as sales revenue slides

Japan's Eisai is taking out the budget ax and chopping more than 200 jobs out of its U.S. operations. A spokesperson for the company tells FierceBiotech tonight that the cuts will center on Eisai's commercial and regional corporate services units, which employ about 850 people. She adds: "The restructuring will not affect our manufacturing or R&D units." 

The focus now, says Eisai, will be on late-stage drugs in the pipeline and expanding sales of its portfolio therapies.

Eisai has facilities in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, Research Triangle Park, NC, Andover, MA, Exton, PA, and Baltimore, MD, with R&D operations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Its cuts, to be made before the end of this month, will eliminate 25% of "various" parts of its U.S. workforce. The Eisai website notes that the company currently employs about 1,800 in the U.S., but the spokesperson notes that the 25% cuts will be concentrated among the 850 staffers in commercial and regional corporate services.

In the first 9 months of the company's 2014 fiscal year, revenue declined 8% and profits plunged 47% compared to the same period a year ago.

"The actions we are taking will ensure Eisai stays competitive in a rapidly changing business environment," said Yuji Matsue, CEO of U.S. subsidiary Eisai Inc. "Eisai remains fully committed to the U.S. market and will continue to serve the needs of patients and their families by developing and marketing important new treatments that help to satisfy unmet medical needs. 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."

Eisai had been building its U.S. sales force for the weight drug Belviq, which has faced some stiff competition from rival therapies. In recent weeks the company has won U.S. and EU approvals for a new thyroid cancer pill, Lenvima, but analysts have generally been skeptical about Eisai's projection of blockbuster sales for the drug. And patent losses for its Alzheimer's drug Aricept and acid reflux treatment AcipHex pushed revenue down, setting the stage for today's cuts.

The reorganization at Eisai marks the latest in a series of painful retrenching moves in the U.S. biopharma industry. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has been cutting more than 1000 jobs, most in R&D, as it grapples with deteriorating finances and an asset swap with Novartis ($NVS). Amgen ($AMGN) just slashed another 300 jobs after outlining deep cuts in R&D last year that included closing its campus in Seattle. Merck ($MRK) cut 120 in Massachusetts after acquiring Cubist, while Shire ($SHPG) has threatened mass layoffs, Pfizer ($PFE) cut back, Sanofi ($SNY) eliminated about 100 jobs in cancer R&D and more.

- here's the release

Special Report: The largest biopharma layoffs of 2014

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