RARE Daily

BrainStorm, Horizon, Idorsia All Make Cuts to Workforce

October 25, 2023

Rare Daily Staff

Three rare disease drug developers—BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, Horizon Therapeutics, and Idorsia—announced cuts to their staffs, moves that reflect a broader effort in the industry to cut expenses in the difficult financing environment.

BrainStorm Cell’s said it was cutting 30 percent of its workforce as part of a strategic realignment to enable accelerated development of its investigational stem cell therapy NurOwn for the treatment of the rare neurodegenerative condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The company had recently withdrawn its application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval of the stem cell therapy which the FDA had refused to file last year.

The realignment is designed to support plans to conduct a double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3b U.S. clinical trial for NurOwn in ALS with an open-label extension, continue to publish data from NurOwn’s phase 3 clinical trial on biomarkers and long-term safety and survival, and the Expanded Access Program. Biomarker data had shown consistent patterns of NurOwn reducing markers of inflammation and neurodegeneration, and increasing neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory markers relative to placebo, further supporting the notion that trial participants taking NurOwn are experiencing a positive biological effect.

As part of the realignment, BrainStorm will refocus resources by streamlining clean room operations and undertaking a targeted reduction in headcount of approximately 30 percent, which will cut total resource consumption by approximately half.

Idorsia, in its third quarter financial report, said it began a cost reduction initiative and pipeline prioritization. Starting in July, about 475 positions at its headquarters have been made redundant through a combination of canceling open positions, not replacing people who are known to leave, and up to 300 people have been terminated, mainly in research and development and the associated support functions.

Idorsia’s prioritization focuses on its commercial drug Quiviq for insomnia drug and approval of the investigational candidate aprocitentan, which is under U.S. Food and Drug Administration review for the treatment of difficult to control hypertension. Idorsia’a pipeline includes late-stage treatments for Fabry disease and systemic lupus erthematosis, and early-stage programs for lysosomal storage disorders.

And Amgen is cutting 350 Horizon Therapeutics employees according to several media reports. The layoffs come after Amgen closed on the $27.8 billion merger agreement with the rare disease drug developer. The decision affects about 20 percent of Horizon’s workforce ahead of the merger.


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