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Allergan plans to cut over 1,000 jobs as generic version of eye treatment nears market

Allergan plans to cut over 1,000 jobs as generic version of eye treatment nears market
A scientist works in Allergan's Irvine research labs in 2015. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Allergan said Wednesday it plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs as it braces for one of its bestselling drugs to face generic competition.

Chief Executive Brent Saunders said in November that the company was preparing as though a generic version of Restasis, a dry-eye treatment, would launch in the beginning of the year. That would require cost cuts, Saunders said at the time.

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"I hate to say that we know how to take costs out of the business, but we do," Saunders said in November. "We will be implementing something as soon as we complete our planning. But rest assured, we will do it rapidly."

The cuts would mostly come from parts of the business that are facing new competition, the drugmaker said in a securities filing on Wednesday. The company has about 18,000 employees worldwide, including at operations in Irvine, Pleasanton and South San Francisco in California. A spokesman would not be more specific about where jobs would be cut.

Allergan attempted last year to shield Restasis from one type of patent challenge through an unconventional deal with a Native American tribe, but a judge later ruled the patents were invalid on scientific grounds.

The company is appealing the judge's ruling. Restasis is Allergan's No. 2-selling drug. In 2016, it generated sales of $1.49 billion, or about 10% of the drugmaker's revenue. A generic version has yet to be approved by U.S. regulators.

Koons writes for Bloomberg.

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