Drug Development

New CEO Szela cuts Aegerion staff again, pulls Juxtapid out of the EU

Aegerion Pharmaceuticals CEO Mary Szela is taking out the ax for the second time in five months, chopping off another 13% of its staff and pulling its drug Juxtapid out of the EU and “certain other” underperforming markets.

The latest cuts leave the Cambridge, MA-based company with about 60% of the staff it started the year with, leaving about 120 employees with pink slips.

Mary Szela

Mary Szela, CEO of Aegerion

Aegerion is concentrating its sales efforts in the U.S. and key markets like Brazil, looking to out-license the drug to partners who can make a better go of it. But it won’t exit the EU entirely, leaving behind a group to help prep Myalept (metreleptin for injection) for an anticipated launch next year. The new move is designed to carve out $25 million to $35 million in annual expenses.

The CEO has been moving fast to reorganize the company after taking over in the wake of disappointing sales for Juxtapid.  She announced last month that Aegerion will merge with Vancouver-based QLT ($QLTI), creating a new biotech named Novelion that leaves the QLT shareholders with the lion’s share of the stock and Szela with the helm. That deal is supposed to close in the next few months.

Szela had this to say in a prepared statement:

 “We are disappointed to announce that we intend to withdraw lomitapide from these markets, but after significant time and investment to obtain pricing and reimbursement approvals in these regions, with limited success, we feel we have exhausted these efforts and must reprioritize our resources.”

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