October 13, 2022

2 min read

White reports not having any meaningful interactions with Allergan as either a speaker or a consultant since July 2021.

Oh my. We were just getting over Alcon jettisoning the entire Kala sales force after acquiring Inveltys and Eysuvis, and now this: Allergan just let go of a massive number of eye care sales reps.

The numbers I have been hearing are staggering. Allergan has downsized its sales force, reportedly cutting 220 reps and 16 managers. These are numbers reminiscent of what happened when the Restasis patent originally expired and when Novartis acquired Xiidra from Takeda.


What are we to make of this?

There are people out there saying stuff like, “Allergan is leaving eye care,” but I can’t really see that this is the case. Despite the disappointing launch of Vuity (which, alas, likely explains quite a bit of the cuts) and the increased competition from the likes of “Fauxstasis,” Allergan reported $717 million in eye care sales in the second quarter of 2022. That’s about $2.5 billion in annual sales from a portfolio with, what, two patent-protected meds? All you need to support that kind of portfolio is a killer managed markets group behind the scenes negotiating with pharmacy benefit managers, with enough reps to support Durysta and drop off the occasional block of Vuity samples.

In an earlier time, Allergan might have packaged up what remains of its eye care portfolio and sold it to someone else. Is there a generic drug company big enough, with enough negotiating savvy, to take on the immunomodulator, steroid, and glaucoma products in Allergan’s legacy tranche? Heck if I know. Maybe a tie-up with the Sandoz unit recently jettisoned by Novartis? (Look for my next post with news about Novartis.) But in that same earlier time, there would still have been a branded division with either a couple of exciting new drugs ready to pop out of the pipeline or a blockbuster acquisition of a drug that had been on everyone’s gotta-have list. Is the company retrenching, biding time and saving large amounts of money while waiting for that next killer product to be ready? No idea.

Is AbbVie/Allergan setting up to exit eye care? Our eye care world has greatly benefited from a healthy, aggressive and nimble Allergan for decades. It always seemed to be the first to catch the next wave. New category creation was its thing. It competed like crazy. I sure hope that it isn’t planning on hanging up its surfboard. I honestly don’t know what to make of this.

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