Afrezza, an inhalable insulin approved last year by the US FDA, was developed by MannKind Corporation and is being commercialised by French Pharma firm Sanofi in a $150m joint venture.
But despite recently increasing production at its Afrezza manufacturing site in Danbury, Connecticut, MannKind says it is cutting jobs there and elsewhere in a third round of layoffs this year.
“We have reduced staff companywide, not just in Danbury, over the past year,” MannKind’s CFO Matthew Pfeffer told in-Pharmatechnologist.com. “This is consistent with statements I made in the last two investor calls regarding reducing our ongoing cash burn by streamlining operations and eliminating functions that are no longer central to our operations.”
Pfeffer did not reveal how many jobs would go but said “the reductions in Danbury, net of new hires there, has been the smallest” compared with previous job cuts.
“More serious reductions occurred in Paramus, New Jersey, [which had housed the firm’s clinical operations] where we eliminated the site altogether, and in California, where we are slowly migrating corporate functions to Danbury,” he said. “Overall the company is about a third smaller than it was a year ago.”
According to its annual report, MannKind had 287 full-time employees at the end of December 2014, about half involved in manufacturing operations.
Slow start, optimistic future
For the first two quarters since its launch in February, sales of Afrezza stood at $3m, Sanofi reported in July.
MannKind’s Founder and Executive Chairman Alfred Mann has previously stated the product was “getting off to a slower start than had been hoped,” but Pfeffer told us this is set to change.
“Doctors are understandably reluctant to try new drugs when there are so many other alternatives that have been in use much longer, but I believe Afrezza has unique advantages for patients, and experience in the real world has borne that out.
“You do not have to look far to find out what users think of the product in this day and age. They are all over social media. That gives me confidence that we will ultimately be very successful. Once there is a larger base of users and more doctors have taken the plunge and tried it, I believe it will develop its own momentum and begin to take off.”
Latest Afrezza sales figures will be announced as part of Sanofi’s Q3 earnings at the end of the month.