US drugmaker Adventrx Pharmaceuticals is reducing its workforce to just 14 employees in a bid to preserve cash and refocus efforts on bioequivalence programmes for its lead candidates.
The San Diego-headquartered firm has struggled since late 2007 when data from a Phase IIb trial of its colorectal cancer drug, CoFactor ANX-510, failed to show any improvement in safety compared with marketed formulations of its base component leucovorin.
The latest cutbacks, which continue those begun in October last year, mean that Adventrx has undertaken a 55 per cent reduction of its workforce since the beginning of the fourth quarter 2008.
Adventrx said that: “the remaining employees will continue with [an] ongoing bioequivalence study of ANX-514 or docetaxel emulsion and activities related to submitting a New Drug Application for ANX-530 or vinorelbine emulsion.”
ANX-514 is a detergents-free formulation intended to reduce the incidence of allergic reactions with which docetaxel is associated. On the other hand ANX-530 is a nanoparticle-based vinorelbine emulsion designed to protect the venous endothelium during administration of the drug.
Commenting on the latest cuts, company chairman Jack Lief explained that choosing to focus on the docetaxel and taxotere markets, which are worth around $3bn and $200m a year respectively, was the best option for the firm and predicted that both drugs would be on the shelves by 2010.
Last year however, observers cast doubt on the market potential of ANX-514 and ANX-530. At the time, CFO Mark Bagnall said that restructuring moves would help the firm “advance our lead product candidates towards commercialisation," adding that "we believe the market is undervaluing ANX-530 and ANX-514."
In conjunction with the latest cuts, Adventrx reiterated that it was actively looking for partners to help it develop ANX-514 and ANX-530 through to the completion of clinical development and commercial launch.
Adventrx will also cut the amount it spends on consulting and vendor services, including in its contract manufacturing business. The firm maintained that the move would have neither a direct or immediate effect on its finances.