Biogen Lays Off 113 Reata Employees Weeks After Completing $7B Acquisition

Pictured: Biogen sign/The Boston Globe via Getty, John Tlumacki

Pictured: Biogen sign/The Boston Globe via Getty, John Tlumacki

Biogen is laying off 113 employees from Reata Pharmaceuticals’ Plano, Texas site, according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice. The layoffs, set to take effect in late November, come just months after Reata was acquired by Biogen for $7.3 billion in July 2023.

At the time, Biogen had just launched a sweeping cost-reduction program which involved terminating around 1,000 employees in an effort to save $1 billion in operating expenses by 2025. Late last month, Biogen completed the acquisition of Reata.

In an emailed statement to Endpoints News, a Biogen spokesperson confirmed the job cuts which will mostly affect “roles where there are existing synergies at Biogen.” The positions include general and administrative services, as well as some development-focused jobs.

“We are retaining those colleagues who have been essential to the launch of Skyclarys to ensure there are no disruptions for patients,” the Biogen spokesperson said.

At the end of 2022, Reata had 321 employees, according to its annual report filed with the SEC. The impending layoffs will affect about a third of the company’s headcount.

With the Reata acquisition, Biogen now owns Skyclarys (omaveloxolone), the only FDA-approved treatment for Friedrich’s Ataxia, a rare heritable disease that progressively damages the nervous system and leads to motor problems. Patients with this condition often live until only their mid-30’s.

The oral, once-daily medication won its regulatory greenlight in late February 2023, and is priced at $370,000 per year.

Reata and Biogen join a growing group of biopharma companies that have had to downsize their business to cut costs or stay afloat. On Wednesday, Sana Biotech announced that it was letting go of 120 employees—approximately 29% of its workforce—in a pipeline refocus that will see the company lean into its ex vivo cell therapy platform.

Lat week, uniQure also laid off 114 employees, approximately 20% of its headcount, along with dropping “more than half of its research and technology projects.”

Large pharmaceutical companies have also recently cut their workforces and pipelines seeking better business efficiencies. These include Novartis, Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb in August 2023, as well as Illumina and Amgen in July.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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