Actelion has announced a drastic cost saving initiative including the axing of up to 135 jobs as the firm continues to battle a steady decline since the start of the year.

The news follows proposals announced in May to refocus and streamline the business after the company revealed it would not return to growth until 2014. Since the start of 2012 Actelion has battled with decreased earnings and pipeline failures, while its flagship blood pressure drug Tracleer (bosentan) is struggling to hold market share as patent expiry looms in 2015.  

The new cost saving initiative aims to ensure Actelion can “fully capitalise” on the growth opportunities provided by its portfolio focusing on pulmonary arterial hypertension and will address the continued strength of the Swiss Franc, increased competition in the USA and the difficult pricing and reimbursement environment in Europe.

In parallel, the company is also refocusing its R&D activities towards orphan and specialty indications so as to generate – in the mid-term – additional specialty franchises. A portfolio review and more targeted R&D spending will see some projects terminated, or prepared for partnership or out-licensing.   

The initiative, which will be implemented by the end of this year, will require a realignment of the organisation and is expected to result in a reduction of up to 135 positions in R&D and administration – about 5.3% of the workforce – the company said. Allschwil in Switzerland will be hardest hit with approximately 115 positions impacted by the news, though only 70 are likely to be cut while 45 vacant posts will not be filled, the company has said.

In a statement, Jean-Paul Clozel, M.D and chief executive of Actelion said: “In order to take full advantage of the growth opportunities ahead of us, we must take decisive action now. We will maintain the earning power of our business thereby balancing long-term growth opportunities with short-term profitability enhancement.”

The company will provide a business update at the half year reporting scheduled for next Thursday 19 July.