Af­ter promis­ing Trump new US jobs, Eli Lil­ly sets out to chop 200 R&D staffers

David Ricks, Lil­ly

Eli Lil­ly is bring­ing out the cor­po­rate ax and aim­ing it at its R&D op­er­a­tions.

Just weeks af­ter the com­pa­ny an­nounced plans to lay off 485 staffers that had been in­volved in the failed solanezum­ab pro­gram, the com­pa­ny spread word on Fri­day that it’s look­ing for 200 re­searchers to take a “vol­un­tary ex­it.”

A spokesper­son for Lil­ly tells me that this amount to about 3% of the com­pa­ny’s to­tal re­search staff. And the cuts aren’t be­ing aimed at any par­tic­u­lar unit.

“Lil­ly is fo­cus­ing its in­vest­ment in new R&D ca­pa­bil­i­ties to en­sure port­fo­lio sus­tain­abil­i­ty,” she added. “We plan to in­crease our in­vest­ment and hire in strate­gic ar­eas, in­clud­ing mol­e­cule-mak­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, im­munol­o­gy and Alzheimer’s dis­ease, across our U.S. re­search sites lat­er this year.”

In re­sponse to a fol­lowup query, the spokesper­son said that this is not a buy­out and that it won’t tar­get ex­ec­u­tives, then said she had no oth­er in­for­ma­tion to of­fer in re­ply to my query whether any fur­ther lay­offs are be­ing planned.

The cuts were an­nounced in­ter­nal­ly two days af­ter Lil­ly CEO Dave Ricks as­sured Pres­i­dent Trump that Lil­ly is in a hir­ing mode on the man­u­fac­tur­ing front — a big is­sue for the new ad­min­is­tra­tion. “We’re hir­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs as I speak,” Ricks told Trump. “Some of the poli­cies you’ve sug­gest­ed — tax, dereg­u­la­tion — those are things that could re­al­ly al­low us to ex­pand op­er­a­tions.”

But Ricks and his Big Phar­ma brethren have be­come ex­perts at rein­ing in em­ploy­ment over the last five years, rather than adding head count. And there’s noth­ing un­usu­al about these kinds of R&D re­align­ments in Big Phar­ma. As­traZeneca, No­var­tis and Mer­ck, among oth­ers, have been do­ing the same thing over the past year. And Pfiz­er said years ago that it ex­pects to see a con­stant chang­ing line­up as it fo­cus­es on new pro­grams and drops its duds.

Lil­ly an­nounced dur­ing its Q4 call late last week that it is shut­ter­ing Ex­pe­di­tion Pro, its sole re­main­ing Phase III study for the one-time megablock­buster hope­ful solanezum­ab. Solanezum­ab failed Ex­pe­di­tion 3, mark­ing a painful­ly ex­pen­sive flop — the third straight clin­i­cal fail­ure. Ex­pe­di­tion Pro, said Ricks, was head­ed for yet an­oth­er fail­ure. The phar­ma gi­ant en­dured a se­ries of set­backs dur­ing a long and painful R&D drought, but it’s been re­ward­ed by some ma­jor ap­provals in the last cou­ple of years. And this year an­a­lysts have high hopes that baric­i­tinib will fol­low up with an ap­proval on its way to block­buster sta­tus.

At the end of 2015, Eli Lil­ly em­ployed 41,275 peo­ple, in­clud­ing ap­prox­i­mate­ly 23,425 em­ploy­ees out­side the US. But it’s al­so been ship­ping jobs over­seas. Five years ear­li­er Lil­ly em­ployed 40,360 peo­ple, in­clud­ing ap­prox­i­mate­ly 20,300 em­ploy­ees out­side the Unit­ed States.

Mov­ing Out of the Clin­ic with Dig­i­tal Tools: Mo­bile Spirom­e­try Dur­ing COVID-19 & Be­yond

An important technology in assessing lung function, spirometry offers crucial data for the diagnosis and monitoring of pulmonary system diseases, as well as the ongoing measurement of treatment efficacy. But trends in the healthcare industry and new challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic are causing professionals in clinical practice and research to reevaluate spirometry’s deployment methods and best practices.

Paul Hudson (Getty Images)

Sanofi, Glax­o­SmithK­line jump back in­to the PhI­II race for a Covid vac­cine — as the win­ners con­gre­gate be­hind the fin­ish line

Sanofi got out early in the race to develop a vaccine using more of a traditional approach, then derailed late last year as their candidate failed to work in older people. Now, after likely missing the bus for the bulk of the world’s affluent nations, they’re back from that embarrassing collapse with a second attempt using GSK’s adjuvant that may get them back on track — with a potential Q4 launch that the rest of the world will be paying close attention to.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

SCO­TUS de­clines to re­view En­brel biosim­i­lar case, tee­ing up 30+ years of ex­clu­siv­i­ty and $20B more for Am­gen’s block­buster

As the House Oversight Committee is set to grill AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on Tuesday over tactics to block competition for its best-selling drug of all time, another decision on Capitol Hill on Monday opened the door for billions more in Amgen profits over the next eight years.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied Novartis subsidiary Sandoz’s petition to review a Federal Circuit’s July 2020 decision concerning its biosimilar Erelzi (etanercept-szzs), which FDA approved in 2016 as a biosimilar to Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept). Samsung’s Enbrel biosimilar Eticovo also won approval in 2019 and remains sidelined.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

No­var­tis' En­tresto takes its 2nd fail­ure of the week­end at ACC, show­ing no ben­e­fit in most dire heart fail­ure pa­tients

Novartis’ Entresto started the ACC weekend off rough with a trial flop in heart attack patients, slowing the drug’s push into earlier patients. Now, an NIH-sponsored study is casting doubt on Entresto’s use in the most severe heart failure patients, another black mark on the increasingly controversial drug’s record.

Entresto, a combination of sacubitril and valsartan, could not beat out valsartan alone in an outcomes head-to-head for severe heart failure patients with a reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), according to data presented Monday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

How to man­u­fac­ture Covid-19 vac­cines with­out the help of J&J, Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na? Bi­ol­yse sees the dif­fi­cul­ties up close

When Biolyse, an Ontario-based manufacturer of sterile injectables, forged a deal with Bolivia last week to manufacture up to 50 million J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses, the agreement kicked off what will prove to be a test case for how difficult the system of compulsory licenses is to navigate.

The first problem: When Biolyse asked J&J, via a March letter, to license its Covid-19 vaccine, manufacture it in Canada and pay 5% royalties on shipments to needy, low-income countries, J&J rejected the offer, refusing to negotiate. J&J also did not respond to a request for comment.

In­cyte keeps rolling on top­i­cal cream for JAK in­hibitor, pass­ing two PhI­II tests in vi­tili­go

As Incyte prepares to potentially hit the market with a topical formulation of its cash cow ruxolitinib in atopic dermatitis, the Wilmington, DE-based company is beefing up its data package for another indication: vitiligo.

Incyte released Phase III results from two of its clinical vitiligo programs Monday morning, saying both studies met their primary endpoints of patients achieving at least 75% improvement from baseline in repigmentation of the face. The data will likely lead Incyte to ask for approval in both the US and Europe for those older than 12 before the end of the year.

Tim Mayleben (L) and Sheldon Koenig (Esperion)

On the heels of a sting­ing Q1 set­back, Es­pe­ri­on's long­time cham­pi­on is ex­it­ing the helm and turn­ing the wheel over to a mar­ket­ing pro

Just days after getting stung by criticism from a badly disappointed group of analysts, there’s a big change happening today at the helm of Esperion $ESPR.

Longtime CEO Tim Mayleben, who championed the company for 9 years from early clinical through a lengthy late-stage drive to successfully get their cholesterol drug approved for a significant niche of patients in the US, is out of the C suite, effective immediately. Sheldon Koenig — hired at the end of 2020 with a resume replete with Big Pharma CV sales experience —  is stepping into his place, promising to right a badly listing commercial ship that’s been battered by market forces.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Days ahead of Am­gen split, Cy­to­ki­net­ics reads out post-hoc da­ta sug­gest­ing heart drug works bet­ter in sick­er pa­tients — but can the CEO win over skep­tics?

While Cytokinetics’ heart drug technically met its primary endpoint back in November, it missed a key secondary endpoint — reduction in cardiovascular death — which eventually cost the company two partnerships. Now the team is back with data suggesting the drug works better in sicker patients, and it’s planning a trip to the FDA.

In a post-hoc analysis, which can be a very difficult sale at the FDA, Cytokinetics separated patients from the Phase III GALACTIC-HF study into four quartiles based on ejection fraction, a measurement of how well the left ventricle pumps blood with each heartbeat. Patients in the lower two quartiles — those with an EF of 22% or lower, and between 29% to 32% — saw a 15% and 17% relative risk reduction of heart failure events and cardiovascular death combined, Cytokinetics reported at ACC. No difference was seen in the upper two quartiles.

Neil Desai, Aadi Bioscience CEO (Specialised Therapeutics via YouTube)

Patrick Soon-Sh­iong's for­mer chief sci­en­tist takes can­cer com­pa­ny pub­lic in $155M re­verse merg­er

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

SPACs have become the preferred fast track for public markets over the past year, but apparently there’s still room for a good, old-fashioned reverse merger.

Cancer-focused Aadi Bioscience announced Monday that they would merge with the struggling public biotech Aerpio Pharmaceuticals. To go along with the merger, Aadi raised $155 million from private investors to commercialize their lead drug, Fyarro, which is now sitting before the FDA. Acuta Capital Partners and KVP Capital led the round.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 105,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.