Eisai said yesterday it will eliminate more than 200 jobs as part of a restructuring that the struggling drug developer said would support its goal of becoming “a more efficient and focused organization.”

“The restructuring is focused on our Commercial and Regional Corporate Services units. There are a total of approximately 850 employees in these two business units, of which approximately 25% will be affected by this restructuring,” Eisai spokeswoman Suzanne Grogan told GEN.

The 850 are part of a U.S. workforce that totals approximately 1,800 across five facilities: Eisai’s U.S. headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ; manufacturing sites in Baltimore and Research Triangle Park, NC; a research laboratory in Andover, MA; and the Exton, PA, site of Eisai-owned cancer drug developer Morphotek.

The company said its new organizational structure is expected to take effect by May 1, and does not include the closing of any of its main offices or facilities.

“Through this realignment, we will be able to redeploy our resources to support the development of our priority late-stage compounds and our current product portfolio,” Yuji Matsue, Eisai’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Eisai’s restructuring follows declines in net income and revenue. During the third quarter of the company’s fiscal year, which began April 1, 2014, Eisai reported a 47% year-over-year plunge in operating profit, to ¥23.8 billion (about $198.1 million) on revenue that fell 8%, to ¥408.5 billion (nearly $3.4 billion).

Among Eisai’s challenges has been patent-cliff exclusivity expirations for disappointing sales for the obesity drug Belviq® (lorcaserin), which the company markets and distributes in the U.S. under license from developer Arena Pharmaceuticals.  The drug faces competition from several obesity treatments approved in recent years, from Vivus’ Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate) to Novo Nordisk’s Saxenda (liraglutide [rDNA origin] injection), to Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion) from developer Orexigen Therapeutics, marketed in the U.S. by Takeda Pharmaceutical.

While Eisai’s Stateside revenues generated by Belviq nearly doubled year-over-year—to $37 million in Q3 of FY 2015 from $17 million in the year-ago quarter—Arena racked up just $10 million in sales the same October-December 2014 period.

The numbers fall way short of original predictions that Belviq would be a blockbuster with sales of $2 billion to $3 billion by 2020. In 2015, Belviq sales are also expected to be affected by the rollout starting in January of a savings card program under which patients without private insurance can obtain the drug for no more than $75 for each monthly prescription.

An Eisai vp, Ivan Cheung told The Wall Street Journal his company has projected at least $1 billion in annual sales by 2020 for its newest approved drug Lenvima (lenvatinib), though other analysts expect less. The kinase inhibitor is indicated for locally recurrent or metastatic, progressive, radioactive iodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer. Lenvima won FDA approval in February, and a favorable recommendation last month from the European Medicines Agency.

“The actions we are taking will ensure Eisai stays competitive in a rapidly changing business environment,” Matsue added. “Eisai remains fully committed to the U.S. market and will continue to serve the needs of patients and their families by developing and marketing important new treatments that help to satisfy unmet medical needs.”

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