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Endo returns licensing rights to opioid drug, lays off 375 sales reps

Endo International said Thursday it was selling back rights to an opioid pain drug because the opioid-based pain market and Endo's strategies have "evolved."

The Ireland-based drugmaker, with U.S. headquarters in Malvern, said it would lay off its 375-member sales force for the drug, Belbuca, which it licensed in 2012 from BioDelivery Sciences International.

Financial terms were not disclosed.  Shares of Endo closed up 56 cents, or 3.71 percent, to $15.65.

Endo said the agreement to return the licensing rights to Belbuca, an opioid buprenorphine for treating long-term chronic pain, becomes effective Jan. 6.  Endo said it will focus resources on its specialty branded business, including the development of Xiaflex for cellulite.  Endo said its older pain products, Opana ER and Percocet, will be managed as mature brands.

Endo will take a $40 million write-down and other costs of $22 million. The company expects cost savings of  $90 million to $100 million annually that can be used to support other products.

"Since we entered into our licensing and development agreement with BioDelivery Sciences International (BDSI) in 2012, the opioid market and Endo's strategic priorities have evolved," said Endo president and CEO Paul Campanelli. "We believe that this path provides our U.S. branded business with its best opportunity for success going forward."

Endo did not say how many of the 375 sales jobs, including full-time and contract sales reps, were based in Malvern.

BioDelivery Sciences in Raleigh, N.C. said it expects annual Belbuca sales of more than $27 million.

Endo, which employs 350 in Malvern and 6,000 worldwide, sells branded and generic drugs as well as over-the-counter medications.

"We are continuing our product-by-product portfolio assessment and the development of our full corporate strategy," said Campanelli, who took the helm at Endo in September. He succeeded Rajiv De Silva, who stepped down. Campanelli was formerly CEO of Par Pharmaceutical, which Endo bought last year.