Acorda Cuts Staff 25% and Restructures to Keep Focus on Parkinson’s Drug

Xconomy New York — 

Acorda Therapeutics is laying off about one quarter of its staff in order to save money and focus its remaining resources on commercializing a Parkinson’s disease drug that launched earlier this year.

Ardsley, NY-based Acorda (NASDAQ: ACOR) said late Wednesday that it expects the workforce cuts will save $21 million annually. Most of the cuts will happen immediately and the rest will happen in the first quarter of 2020. Acorda employed 474 people as of February 21, according to the company’s annual report.

Acorda develops drugs for neurological disorders. The company’s top-selling product is the multiple sclerosis drug dalfampridine (Ampyra). But that drug now faces generic competition, putting pressure on the Acorda pipeline to produce other revenue-generating products.

Last December, Acorda won the regulatory nod for Inbrija, an inhalable version of the decades-old Parkinson’s drug levodopa. The drug, which is typically taken in pill form, is the standard-of-care treatment for the movement symptoms of the disease. But after years of use, the medicine’s efficacy diminishes and leads to “off” episodes, which are periods when the effect of the drug wears off and symptoms return. Patients can increase their levodopa doses or increase the frequency of their doses. But too much of the drug can lead to uncontrolled bodily movements called dyskinesia. As an inhalable formulation of levodopa, Inbrija is intended to kick in more quickly, providing patients with relief from their symptoms when they experience off periods between doses of their levodopa pills.

Acorda launched its Parkinson’s drug in February. Through the end of September, Inbrija had generated $9.2 million in sales, according to the company’s financial reports.

In addition to the layoffs, Acorda revised its financial projections. Research and development expenses for 2019 are expected to be between $55 million and $60 million, down from $70 million to $80 million. Overhead expenses that were initially projected to reach as much as $210 million this year will now be reduced to between $185 million to $190 million. Acorda said more detailed information will become available on Nov. 4, when the company releases its third quarter financial results.