Akela slashes staff, shutters sites in restructuring

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In an effort to cut back on its burn rate, Canada's Akela Pharma announced this morning that it is chopping about a third of its staff. After handing out pink slips to 32 workers Akela will have 65 employees on the payroll. Several international facilities are being shuttered and the developer--which has been advancing Fentanyl Taifun, an inhaled therapy for breakthrough cancer--will centralize operations in Austin, TX.

Earlier this week, Akela announced that it had named Greg McKee as its new CEO. McKee had been CEO of Nventa Biopharmaceuticals, which merged with Akela last May. In the restructuring, Taneli Jouhikainen, the former acting chief executive officer of Akela, will be leaving the company. Ed Margerrison, Ph.D., Akela's vice president, program management, will lead the Fentanyl Taifun project, and Marcelo Omelczuk, Ph.D., Akela's senior vice president, business and product development, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of PharmaForm, its manufacturing subsidiary. In addition, Rudy Emmelot, formerly with Nventa Biopharmaceuticals, has joined Akela as vice president, finance.

Akela Pharma announced last February that it faced a delay developing Fentanyl Taifun for breakthrough cancer pain after the FDA rejected toxicology studies, saying that deviations in Good Laboratory Practice had invalidated the results.

- read the Akela release