Valeant sacks Dendreon admin staff and plans manufacturing savings

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

Valeant cuts Dendreon jobs and mulls manufacturing savings
Valeant cuts Dendreon jobs and mulls manufacturing savings
Valeant has started cutting jobs at Provenge manufacturer Dendreon just over a week after it acquired the bankrupt firm for $495m (€444m).

A total of 77 Dendreon employees will be sacked according to a WARN notice​ seen by the Seattle Times. Valeant spokeswoman Laurie Little told the paper that most of the jobs are in general and administrative functions.

The sackings are in keeping with an established acquisition and cost cutting strategy (are you watching Salix folks​?).

Valeant cut jobs after buying Bausch & Lomb​ in 2013, Medicis​ in 2012 and – in 2010​ – employees were laid off after Valeant merged with Biovail.

In Dendreon’s case the job cuts fit with the firm’s own pre-takeover efforts to cut costs.

Downsizing Dendreon

A few years back, Dendreon employed around 1,500 people, had three Provenge production facilities in New Jersey, Atlanta and Los Angeles and was building a plant in Germany​.

But in 2012, the US firm started cutting back to try and cut the cost of making the drug amid disappointing sales and mounting debts.

These measures – which included trying to automate​ production, sale of the New Jersey plant​ and workforce​ cuts - failed and Dendreon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November.

Since then, Dendreon has continued to make Provenge in Atlanta, Georgia and Seal Beach, California. However, in an SEC filing last year it proposed exiting both sites and shifting production to a smaller satellite units in “high volume locations.​”

Valeant plan

What Valeant will do is unclear, however, speaking after the deal completed CEO Mike Pearson said: “We believe this asset [Provenge] has been undermanaged as it has an infrastructure in place built for a billion dollar product.

We expect to be able to extract synergies of over $130m, including manufacturing savings and this does not include the benefit of our corporate structure​.”

How Valeant will make manufacturing savings is unclear, but the firm's other drugs are made using a “virtual” model that relies on third-party production by a pool of 800 contract manufacturing organisations (CMO).

Provenge production is already contracted out for the European market. Netherlands-based contractor PharmaCell BV​ has made the cell therapy since 2013.

UK says Provenge too expensive

It should also be noted that the Dendreon cuts come a little over a week after the UK National Institute for Healthcare Excellence (NICE) – the body that determines if drugs are available in the NHS in England and Wales – decided not to back Provenge​.

NICE said it “has not recommended sipuleucel-T, also known as Provenge and marketed by Dendreon, for the treatment of prostate cancer, because the available evidence showed that the price the NHS is being asked to pay for the drug is too high for the benefit it may provide to patients.​”

According to NICE the drug would have cost the NHS £50,000 per patient. In the US the product sells for around $93,000 for a treatment course.

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