Philadelphia Drugmaker Iroko Pharma Pink Slips Another 122 Employees

Philadelphia Drugmaker Iroko Pharma Pink Slips Another 122 Employees June 2, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

PHILADELPHIA – Nearly nine months after slashing 25 percent of its workforce, Iroko Pharmaceuticals is terminating more than 100 full- and part-time employees.

The company laid off 108 sales positions and 14 other positions, a total of 122 employees, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported this morning. The other positions included mid-level managers in facilities, program management, sales operations, and data management planning, according to the Inquirer’s report. The layoffs were effective May 23. After this latest round of terminations, Iroko Pharmaceuticals, which develops therapies for pain management, will have a staff of 19 people, the Inquirer said.

Company spokesperson Rand Walton told the Inquirer the company is “re-identifying” how the company can best serve the people who rely on its treatments. He said the company has to make sure it has the right mix of patient-centric services and marketing, which led to the reduction of employees.

When Iroko terminated a quarter of its workforce in 2016, the company said it was hiring about 90 sales reps. There was no indication of how many of those hires were included in this round of layoffs.

The company is facing generic challenges to one of its pain-treating drugs, Zorvolex. In December, the company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave approval to a New Drug Application for Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s, generic version called Diclofenac Capsules. Iroko’s Zorvolex is classified as a Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID).

Last year Iroko’s Vivlodex, also a NSAID, hit the market. In January of this year that drug, which was developed for the management of osteoarthritis pain, snagged a key patent that will provide some level of protection until 2033.

Iroko also has two other approved pain treatments, Tivorbex and Indocin.

Iroko’s drugs were developed using the company’s proprietary SoluMatrix Fine Particle Technology platform.

Last year when the company laid off a quarter of its workforce, the company said that overall sales volumes were up, but generic competition forced the company to sell its drugs at a lower price. Osagie Imasogie, Iroko’s chairman of the board and former chief executive officer, told the Inquirer that drug prices were certainly a factor in the company’s rounds of layoffs. He said consumers are becoming more price conscious and selecting generic drugs over branded names. He also said more people are relying on over-the-counter pain treatments as opposed to prescribed medications.

Iroko also has had some debt issues it’s been taking care of. Last year the company entered into a $140 million debt facility agreement with CRG LP to retire existing debt and provide working capital for the company.

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