Daiichi Sankyo US shifts to specialty-pharma focus; cuts US staff by nearly 50%

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Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - November/December 2015

Company has 18 products in its US pipeline

The shift from mass-market pharmaceuticals in primary care to specialties is well recognized and has been going on for several years now, but few company shifts have been as stark as that of Daiichi Sankyo, the Japanese multinational. The company has announced that it is reducing headcount by 1,000-1,200 (out of a total US staff of 2,400). In the past year, it lost patent exclusivity on Welchol (colesevelam), a diabetes and cholesterol treatment, and is about to lose exclusivity on Benicar (olmesartan), a hypertension therapy that generated $2.6 billion in sales last year, according to press reports. An earlier staff reduction had also been announced.

"As we face the loss of exclusivity in the coming year of our largest product, we also look ahead to great opportunities with our emerging portfolio in cardiology, oncology, fibromyalgia and pain relief," said Ken Keller, president, US Commercial, Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. "This calls for us to restructure our organization into a smaller, highly targeted and efficient operating model, with a greater emphasis on customer-facing roles."

A company statement says that the eliminated jobs will come from the US Commercial Home Office, located in Parsippany, NJ, as well as field-based sales and other positions throughout the country. This reorganization is not focused on US-based R&D functions, which have staff concentrated in Edison, NJ, or its packaging plant in Bethlehem, PA.

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