Abbott's pharma unit retools as US boss retires

Share this article:

Abbott Labs' US pharmaceuticals business is undergoing some hefty changes: about 1,500 layoffs, a merger with the international division and the retirement of its SVP.

Abbott said it's combining its US and international pharma units into a new operation called the proprietary pharmaceuticals division. Donald Patton, who headed the US unit as SVP since January 2010, will retire effective Feb. 28, Abbott confirmed.

The proprietary pharma unit will be led by Carlos Alban, who previously led international pharmaceuticals as SVP, and will preside over patent-protected, brand-name drugs, according to Dow Jones, which first reported the moves. An established products business, being led by Michael Warmuth, will have commercial responsibility over branded generics, mostly in emerging markets.

Patton came out of the company's nutrition and diagnostics businesses, as well as TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Abbott's former joint venture with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. which paid $875 million to settle a government investigation of Lupron.

In January, Abbott announced it would lay off 1,900 as part of a reorganization, and roughly 1,500 of those positions are in the pharma group, primarily in commercial operations and manufacturing in the US, Scott Stoffel, an Abbott spokesperson, told MM&M.

Like all big pharma companies, Abbott has felt pressure to trim costs. US sales of its anti-inflammatory blockbuster Humira surged 14% last year to $2.9 billion, close to expectations. But analyst are wondering how long that can last, as investors ponder the arrival of oral agents for rheumatoid arthritis and potential biosimilars, both of which could impinge on Humira's long-term growth.

The heart franchise last year was a mixed bag. The TriLipix/TriCor franchise, approved to lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol in the blood, came in at $1.4 billion for the year, a 1% increase over 2009. Niaspan, a medicine which raises HDL cholesterol, reached $927 million, an 8.4% surge.

But a government-run trial called Accord showed that TriCor, which is similar to TriLipix, failed to best a placebo at staving off heart attacks, strokes and deaths. Usage fell—the drug was prescribed 9.5 million times a year, down nearly 22%, according to data from Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solutions.

In December, Abbott and AstraZeneca scrapped plans to develop a pill that combined TriLipix with AstraZeneca's statin Crestor, saying it was no longer commercially attractive. The FDA had rejected the pill, called Certriad, last March and, although the agency declined to say why, questions about TriLipix's benefits may have been a factor.

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Email Newsletters

MM&M Future Leaders

Register now

Early bird $1,950 before 31 October 2014

*Group discounts available on request 


Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Channel

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Monday, September 15

Five things for pharma marketers to know: ...

Pharma has sought 76 meetings with FDA over biosimilars; Gilead licenses Sovaldi to India generic drugmakers; Pfizer and Ranbaxy Lipitor lawsuit dismissed.

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Liraglutide, aiming for new indication, gets new name

Why Novo Nordisk is choosing not to leverage Victoza's brand equity as it seeks a weight-loss indication for liraglutide.

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, September 12

Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, ...

An FDA panel voted in favor of liraglutide for weight loss; Allergan investors backing an attempted takeover of the firm crossed a critical threshold; and 100 million health wearables are ...