Esperion to Cut 40% of Staff as Cholesterol Drugs Fail to Thrive

Layoff Dropped from Team

Products getting regulatory approval and hitting the market doesn’t always spell success for companies, especially during a global pandemic. Michigan-based Esperion has learned that lesson all too well.

On Monday, the company announced its plan to reduce its overall workforce by 40% and significantly decrease operational expenses in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 to optimize its long-term growth. The move is expected to save the company at least $80 million, which the company hopes will help enable the future growth of its two first-in-class oral medicines.

The two cholesterol medicines, NEXLETOL and NEXLIZET, were both launched during the COVID-19 pandemic and have been struggling to gain traction. As a result, the company hopes its restructure will help it align with the current market environment.

“Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in the world. ESPERION is fortunate to have two well-received first-in-class medicines approved and available, providing us the opportunity to become a leader in the cardiovascular market,” said Sheldon Koenig, president and CEO of Esperion. “Today’s decision will help to further grow NEXLETOL and NEXLIZET while conserving resources to support our critically important and differentiated CLEAR Outcomes trial, which we believe has the potential to dramatically increase adoption of our innovative cholesterol-lowering agents.”

The CLEAR Outcomes trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III trial evaluating whether bempedoic acid reduces risk of cardiovascular events. The trial is expected to be complete in the second half of next year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved NEXLETOL and NEXLIZET in February for adults with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH) or established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) who require additional lowering of LDL-C.

The restructure announcement comes less than six months after Koenig was chosen to helm the company following the departure of longtime Esperion CEO Tim Mayleben. Koenig has over 30 years of commercial and operational experience in the cardiovascular space and leads the company in the midst of what the company called “a critical growth phase” in a statement.

Although the pandemic is making capitalizing on the critical growth phase a difficult task, Esperion is hoping to focus commercialization efforts on a blend of focused outreach and digital initiatives to increase awareness of NEXLETOL and NEXLIZET for appropriate patient populations.

“In-person access to health care providers has been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We are adapting to meet their needs in a more effective way that grows awareness of our products at the same time,” Koenig said.

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