SoCal's Avanir Axes 11% of Workforce


ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – Avanir Pharmaceuticals will lay off 11 percent of its workforce by the end of January 2018 as part of a company restructuring. The majority of the positions being eliminated will be in sales, according to reports.

The company said the layoffs, which amount to approximately 73 employees, will streamline the company’s approach to sales, according to a report in the Orange County Business Journal. Additionally the job reduction will better position Avanir to pursue its “long-term mission,” the company said in its statement. A company spokesperson told BioSpace that the layoffs are part of the “normal course of assessing and continuously improving the business.”

Little else was indicated about the cuts, but the OCBJ reported that the majority of the cuts are expected to be outside of its Aliso Viejo headquarters. At the end of September, the company had about 680 employees, with 192 located in Orange County, the OCBJ said, citing the Business Journal data published earlier this year.

Avanir’s lead drug Nuedexta is a combination of dextromethorphan hydrobromide and quinidine sulfate, a metabolic inhibitor enabling therapeutic concentrations of dextromethorphan. The drug is used to treat pseudobulbar affect (PBA), a rare neurological condition is characterized by uncontrollable laughing or crying. There has been some concern over marketing practices of that drug, but Avanir said there is no relation to the layoffs.

Avanir began 2016 with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of its Onzetra migraine medication. Onzetra (sumatriptan nasal powder) is a fast-acting dry powder formulation of sumatriptan, the most commonly prescribed migraine medication. Trial data showed patients reported headache relief at 30 minutes and at every time point up to two hours post-dose compared with those using the placebo.

 The drug was approved for adults and now Avanir is exploring the inhalant for use in pediatric patients who suffer from migraine headaches.

In its clinical pipeline, Avanir is developing AVP-786, a combination of deudextromethorphan and an ultra-low dose of quinidine. Deudextromethorphan is an uncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist, sigma-1 receptor agonist and inhibitor of the serotonin (SERT) and norepinephrine (NET) transporters. AVP-786 is in development for a number of indications including agitation in Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, residual schizophrenia and Disinhibition in Dementia.

AVP-786 is currently in Phase III development for Alzheimer’s associated agitation. Avanir received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for AVP-786.

In June, the company launched a Phase II study of AVP-786 for the treatment of neurobehavioral disinhibition, including aggression, agitation and irritability in patients with traumatic brain injury.

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