Am I Next? Allergan Layoff, Restasis Patent Invalidated

Allergan, a pioneer in optical pharmaceuticals is undertaking a cost-cutting and restructuring program to achieve Wall Street earnings expectations in 2018. The plan anticipates the layoff of up to 1,400 employees including 400 open positions that will not be funded or filled. 

The reduced headcount should come as no surprise to most employees as the company widely discussed the possibility of losing the “exclusivity” of their dry-eye treatment, Restasis (Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion), which is Allergan’s second-largest product.

Anticipating the possibility of an early patent loss, Allergan attempted to circumvent a patent review process by the federal court by transferring (sale-leaseback)  its intellectual property rights to the sovereign Native American Tribe (Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe).  

The scheme did not work and United States Circuit Judge William C. Bryson of the Eastern District of Texas invalidated four key patents for Restasis, thus opening the door for lower-cost generics in the future. Allergan plans to appeal and the FDA has not approved any generic replacements at this time. 

Are you asking yourself, Am I Next?


Am I Next? Stratford Board of Education. Layoffs. Unions.

When requested to take two unpaid furlough days between January and June 2018 to help ease a budgetary shortfall, the teacher’s union, unlike the custodian’s union and the secretary’s union, said NO! The result is that the Stratford Public Schools will lay off 40 teachers. The shortfall was attributed in part to a cut in state funding.

Of course, the teachers’ union was quick to bleat, “it’s for the children.”

Michael Fiorello, head of the teachers’ union, the Stratford Education Association, was quoted as saying, “Stratford Education Association members want to be part of the solution but hold steadfast against any cuts that affect the classroom and jeopardize our students’ futures. The plan to furlough teachers and close Stratford Public Schools for two days before the end of the year would be harmful and disruptive to students, teachers, parents, and the community. We are already doing more with less, and our schools can’t absorb more cuts that would result in even fewer resources, the elimination of programs for students, larger class sizes, as well as teacher layoffs and involuntary teacher transfers. When students lose their teachers, that impacts their classroom environment and puts their learning at risk, all in the middle of the school year.”

Of course, Fiorello was quick to add that he was willing to work out an option “that is fair for all of us and will allow us to move forward this school year without disruption to the hundreds of students in our public schools.”

It was never about the students, but all about demonstrating the necessity and toughness for a union that simply siphons money out of the system like a parasite – careful not to kill the host altogether. The one solution the union almost always refuses to recognize is the use of parents and other voluntary labor in and out of the classroom. The custodians, the secretaries, and non-exempt (non-union) people will take the two furlough days and understand any raises have been canceled. At least they will be employed and not have their lives totally disrupted, unlike the 40 teachers who will be laid off.

Having a union is not always a good thing. Especially when they play hardball with their member’s lives, reward seniority over merit, and exist mostly to keep the money flowing into their ginormous health, welfare, and pension funds.


Am I Next? BuzzFeed layoffs, legal liability?

To compensate for a “significant revenue shortfall,” BuzzFeed has announced that the company would be laying off approximately 100 employees and restructuring the organization in an effort to diversify its revenue sources away from a reliance on so-called “native advertising.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of “native advertising,” it generally means customizing advertising into what appears to be a “native” editorial – or as they say “advertorial” – format which is both time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly to produce. As people learn to distrust advertorial content and advertisers see less of an advantage over conventional advertising, it is natural for revenues to decrease with no offset to labor costs. Hence, employee headcount must be reduced.

BuzzFeed’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) scheduled for 2018 is also being placed on hold as the company deals with the risks associated with the hyper-politicization of their content, the ongoing era of digital disruption, and the widespread availability of real-time news and coverage on social media platforms. It should come as no surprise that BuzzFeed’s President, Greg Coleman, and a number of other executives will be leaving the company. Possibly at the urging of one of BuzzFeed’s major investors, Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, who reportedly ponied up $400 million out of the $500 million invested by venture capitalists.

The greatest threat facing BuzzFeed is not diminishing advertising revenue or the risk of diversification into vertical markets, but the type of libel lawsuit that destroyed Gawker, another internet media company.

BuzzFeed was the first media organization to publish the salacious and mostly unverifiable “Steele Dossier” and the attempt to create a Trump-Russia linkage. It now appears that the dossier is a product of Fusion GPS an opposition research company founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters and was paid for jointly by the Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee.

The dossier is the subject of a libel suit filed by Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, the CEO of XBT Holdings and its internet hosting network Webzilla. The dossier appears to allege that Gubarev was a party to the hacking of DNC computers under the direction of the FSB, Russia’s intelligence agency. Not only did Gubarev deny the allegations, he brought lawsuits against the purported dossier’s author, the ex-British spy Christopher Steele.

BuzzFeed has asked the Department of Justice to consider the publishing of this possibly false and defamatory document and the accompanying BuzzFeed story to be within the scope of free and protected speech. The BuzzFeed claim is based on the “fair reporting privilege” because the dossier was being investigated by the FBI. It is unknown at this time whether or not BuzzFeed was compensated for publishing the dossier after a number of credible media organizations turned away from the project. The DOJ has rejected BuzzFeed’s claim for immunity on the basis that their story did not mention the FBI, the investigation, and the dossier was not a government-originated document.

It is expected that other lawsuits remain waiting to be filed once the preliminary information has been discovered and key initial rulings published.

Is the handwriting on the wall and are red flags flying for the remaining employees? 

There are no guarantees in life, or promises for a bright future. Just because something bad hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere ... are you now wondering, Am I Next?