Iroko Pharma Slashes a Quarter of Workforce, But Plans to Hire 90 Sales Reps

Iroko Pharma Slashes a Quarter of Workforce, But Plans to Hire 90 Sales Reps September 21, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Iroko Pharmaceuticals, based in Philadelphia, announced that it was laying off about 25 percent of its staff, or around 36 people. However, at the same time, it plans to hire as many as 90 sales representatives.

Iroko is focused on pain management and developing new drugs based on existing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs. The company has several pain-relief drugs on the market in the U.S., including Vivlodex, Tivorbex, Zorvolex, and Indocin. Aldomet and Indocid are marketed in eight countries.

Vivlodex was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2015, and hit the U.S. market in February of this year. The company also has several NSAIDs in its pipeline that utilize its SoluMatrix Fine Particle Technology platform. SoluMatrix Naproxen for arthritis is currently in Phase II trials. IP NCB and IP NIB for osteoarthritis pain are in nonclinical development. The company’s SoluMatrix platform cuts the particle size of existing NSAID drugs. This results in their ability to dissolve faster and makes them more effective at lower doses.

Iroko indicates that overall sales volumes are up, but because of generic competition has been forced to sell its drugs at a lower price.

On June 29, the company indicated that it had entered into a $140 million debt facility deal with CRG LP in order to eliminate an existing debt and raise working capital. CRG, formerly known as Capital Royalty, is a healthcare-focused investment firm.

“We are very pleased to enter into this agreement with CRG, an investment partner known for its strategic investments in healthcare,” said Osagie Imasogie, Iroko’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, in a June statement. “This financing will assist us in fulfilling our mission of making available Iroko’s low-dose SoluMatrix NSAIDs to the many patients around the world who seek pain medications that have been shown to provide effective pain relief. We provide these medications specifically to align with FDA and other regulatory and professional medical organization recommendations to use NSAIDs at the lowest effective dosage for the shortest duration consistent with patient treatment goals.”

Imasogie wasreplaced by Louis Vollmer as chief executive officer on July 6. Imasogie remains as the company’s chairman. He is also the company’s founder. Vollmer will act as both president and chief executive. Vollmer has been president since March 2015 and also remains as a member of the company’s board of directors.

Prior to joining Iroko, Vollmer was one of three founding partners and management team leaders of Endo Pharmaceuticals . He began his career at DuPont Merck.

“I am honored to lead Iroko at this stage of the company’s evolution,” Vollmer said in a July statement. “Iroko is in a strong position for growth within the United States and worldwide. I look forward to helping the company deliver significant value to patients and healthcare professionals and achieving strong and sustainable growth.”

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