Momenta Slashes Workforce and Leadership Following Strategic Review


Despite winning regulatory approval for a copycat version of Copaxone earlier this year, Cambridge, Mass.-based Momenta Pharmaceuticals has completed a strategic review that includes slashing its staff by 50 percent as the company focuses its resources on two biosimilar candidates in its pipeline.

On Monday, Momenta announced the restructuring as a measure to reduce costs of biosimilar development. The restructuring, the company said, will allow it to advance two late-stage biosimilar assets; M923, a biosimilar to AbbVies Humira and M710, a proposed biosimilar to Regenerons Eylea, which is being developed in collaboration with Mylan. Momenta said it anticipates seeking a developmental partner for M923 as it prepares to file a biologics license application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As part of the strategic review, Momenta said it has begun to discuss plans for Mylan to exit its participation in five other biosimilar projects, including M834, a proposed biosimilar to Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Orencia. Momenta said it intends for Mylan to solely focus on the continued development of M710.

Craig Wheeler, president and chief executive officer of Momenta, said the company’s goal for the strategic review was to find a way to reduce its level of involvement in biosimilar development so the company could focus its resources on its “promising novel drug candidates for immune-mediated diseases.” Wheeler added that the company explored a number of options, including the potential sale of all its biosimilar assets.

“After multiple rounds of complex negotiations, it was determined that the restructuring of our Company to focus on the advancement of our novel drug pipeline and the continued development of our two late-stage biosimilar programs, M923 and M710, provides us with what we believe to be the best path forward because of the potential for these two biosimilar programs to generate revenues that could help fund our future Phase III novel drug clinical trials,” Wheeler said in a statement.

As Momenta aims its resources at the two biosimilar assets, the company said it will terminate approximately 50 percent of its workforce, which amounts to about 110 jobs. The cuts will include a number of its executives, including Ganesh Kaundinya, Momenta’s chief operating officer and chief scientific officer, General Counsel Bruce Leicher, commercial head Robert Ciappenelli, and Scott Storer, the company’s chief financial officer and treasurer. The departing executives have agreed to help the transition of leadership as consultants.

With the departure of those members of the leadership team, Momenta said Alejandra Carvajal will assume the roles of chief legal officer, general counsel and secretary; Michelle Robertson will take over as CFO and treasurer; Young Kwon will assume the role of CBO; Anthony Manning will become CSO; Jo-Ann Beltramello will become chief human resources and infrastructure officer; Ian Fier will become chief manufacturing and program officer; and Santiago Arroyo will continue as chief medical officer.

With the cuts being made, Momenta said it expects to save about $250 million over a five-year period. The restructuring is estimated to cost between $17 and $20 million through 2018. Momenta anticipates it will raise additional capital to fund its ongoing programs over the next two years.

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