Eisai job cuts part of shift to oncology franchise model

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Eisai is winding down a co-promotion deal with Pfizer and shifting toward a lean commercial structure it says will thrust it into the top 10 in women's oncology.

Since 1994, the Japanese firm has had a co-marketing agreement with Pfizer on Alzheimer's disease treatment Aricept (donepezil) that “greatly contributed to global expansion” of the drug, Eisai said in presentation material yesterday. The accord is set to expire in Japan at the end of 2012.

Aricept's US patent expired in November, Bloomberg reported, after generating 323 billion yen ($3.9 billion) in global revenue the fiscal year ending March 2010. Approved for mild, moderate and severe cases, the pill accounted for 40% of sales. But with cheaper generic copies of its blockbuster invading the market, and company revenue expected to be flat through the fiscal year ending March 2016, Eisai said it will cut 900 jobs, including some 600 positions in the US.

Eisai says it's established its own lean commercial structure in the US and Europe. The structure features “smaller cross-functional field teams, including clinical nurse educator team and managed markets, to reach customers.”

An in-house sales force is being used on the roll-out of Halaven (eribulin mesylate), which gained approval last year for metastatic breast cancer. The firm commenced independent marketing in the US, with sales promotion in community oncology clinics and academic institutions. The company is aiming for $2 billion in sales based on planned applications for additional oncology indications.

Eisai has two more late-stage agents focused on women's oncology—farletuzumab for ovarian cancer and lenvatinib for thyroid cancer.
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