Report: J&J jettisons 130 jobs after PhIII Alzheimer's misfire

A doomed Alzheimer's program has triggered layoffs. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is making deep cuts in an Alzheimer's immunotherapy unit in the aftermath of a colossal Phase III failure of a program to advance bapineuzumab against the memory-stealing disease, Pharmalot reported. And the company's budget ax is falling on a total of 130 jobs, hitting the hardest at an R&D operation in South San Francisco.

As Pharmalot reports, the layoffs wipe out 119 jobs and most of the 200 positions in the Janssen Alzheimer's Immunotherapy unit, which played a large role in J&J's collaboration with Pfizer ($PFE) to develop 'bapi' in patients with mild-to-moderate disease. The companies have dumped the program after poor efficacy results in a pair of Phase III trials dashed blockbuster hopes for the therapy from the Ireland-based biopharma outfit Elan.

A J&J spokeswoman blamed the cutbacks on the demise of the bapi program, Pharmalot reported.

And so J&J becomes the latest drugmaker to cite an unsuccessful R&D mission in justifying job cuts. Amid his efforts to reduce research and other jobs in France, Sanofi ($SNY) CEO Chris Viehbacher noted the lack of a new drug from the French operations on chopping block over the past 20 years. And Roche ($RHHBY) cut R&D workers in a plan to sever 1,000 jobs in New Jersey, as the company moved to shut down its Nutley operation and beef up R&D at other sites in China and Switzerland.

Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer gambled heavily on the bapi program with a large Phase III effort despite weak signs of efficacy in earlier studies. And Eli Lilly ($LLY) also recently failed to show strong efficacy in late-stage results of solanezumab for Alzheimer's disease. Now many industry players have shifted their development strategies toward preventive treatment for at-risk patients. And Big Pharma outfits don't often make significant changes in strategy without job casualties.

- check out Pharmalot's report

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