Ariad Pharmaceuticals said today it will reduce its workforce by 25%—approximately 90 headquarters positions in the U.S. and Europe—as part of a company-wide strategic review.
The company added that no “customer-facing” positions within Ariad's commercial or medical affairs organizations were included among the job cuts, which, according to a regulatory filing, will leave the company with approximately 380 employees in the U.S. and Europe.
“The decision to reduce the Company's workforce has been extremely difficult, but we believe that it is a necessary step to invest in the promising growth potential of both Iclusig® and brigatinib and, ultimately, to further enable our orphan oncology medicines to reach cancer patients in desperate need,” Ariad president and CEO Paris Panayiotopoulos said in a statement.
Ariad finished last year with a more-than-doubling of Iclusig net product revenues—up 102% over 2014, to $112.5 million.
In a statement last month, Panayiotopoulos said Ariad’s priorities for 2016 would include maximizing top-line growth of Iclusig and completing an ongoing review of strategic initiatives, as well as filing for FDA marketing approval of brigatinib following presentation of pivotal-phase data at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, set for June 3-7 in Chicago.
Brigatinib is indicated for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase positive (ALK+) non-small cell cancer (NSCLC) whose disease is resistant to crizotinib
Today in its regulatory filing, Ariad said it expects to complete nearly all of the workforce reduction during the first quarter, with the balance in the second quarter of 2016.
The company estimated that it will record a one-time charge totaling approximately $3.3 million related to termination benefits and other related charges. Most of this charge is expected to be recorded in the first quarter, with the balance in the second quarter, with cash amounts to be paid out through the remainder of 2016.
The job cuts will be one of five components of Ariad’s review of operations. The other four, the company said, will include an evaluation of commercial maximization initiatives, geographical presence, R&D portfolio, and business development opportunities to support the overall strategic direction.
Ariad said it will disclose further details on the progress of the strategic review in the second quarter.
Panayiotopoulos took the company’s day-to-day helm effective January 1, arriving from EMD Serono and parent company Merck KGaA. There, according to Ariad’s announcement of his hiring, he achieved turnarounds in the U.S., Japan, and Western Europe “by building high-performing and trusting teams, and creating an enduring vision and strategy in each role that he served.”
Panayiotopoulos succeeded Harvey J. Berger, M.D., Ariad’s chairman and CEO, who founded the cancer drug developer in 1991 but retired last year. The retirement announcement came some two months after activist investor Alex Denner’s Sarissa Capital launched a proxy battle by nominating two candidates to Ariad’s board.
Sarissa sought the “imminent retirement” of Dr. Berger, citing his retention as CEO in 2013, the year the company was forced to withdraw its leukemia treatment Iclusig from the U.S. market, leading to the layoff of 160 employees; Iclusig returned in 2014 with a boxed warning and a narrower patient indication.