Sepracor is the latest US drugmaker to announce major job cuts in a bid to cut costs, as it unveiled a healthy set of financials for the fourth quarter.

The Marlborough, Massachusetts-based company said it is reducing 20% of its workforce, or 530 jobs, in a bid to save some $210 million in expenses. Sepracor noted that most of the cuts (350 jobs) would come from field-based positions, leaving it with a sales force of about 1,325.

The company added that it will also eliminate some 410 contract sales positions. Chief executive Adrian Adams noted that “this is a challenging economic time for the country and the pharmaceutical industry, and it has become necessary for us to proactively adapt to these changes so that we can continue to be competitive in this rapidly changing environment." He added that “we deeply regret the hardship that this strategic restructuring plan will impose on the affected employees” but it is “the right course of action to streamline our operations into a more efficient and flexible business”.

News of the cuts came as Sepracor posted net income for the fourth quarter of $88.4 million, compared with a loss of $5 million in the like, year-earlier period. Revenues climbed 8.7% to $369.7 million, beating analyst estimates.

Once again the principal growth driver was the insomnia drug Lunesta (eszopiclone), sales of which were up 8% to $161.9 million from $148.9 million a year ago. Xopenex (levalbuterol), which is indicated for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, slipped 3.3% to $137.7 million, while Brovana (arformoterol) for COPD brought in $19.3 million, up from $6.3 million for the same period last year.

Royalties from out-licensed antihistamine products, which include Schering-Plough's Clarinex (desloratadine), Sanofi-Aventis' Allegra (fexofenadine) and UCB's Xyzal/Xusal (levocetirizine), were up 17% to $19.2 million. Sepracor added that it expects 2009 earnings, excluding items, of $2.10-$2.70 per share on revenues of $1.15-$1.25 billion.