XenoPort cuts 50% of workforce

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In a terse announcement released Friday, Santa Clara, CA-based XenoPort said it's cutting 50 percent of its 219-person staff and refocusing its development efforts on its late-stage product candidates. The decision follows the FDA's February 18 rejection of XenoPort and GlaxoSmithKline's application for Horizant, an experimental restless leg syndrome treatment. The FDA was spooked by animal data in which Horizant caused cancer in rats. And considering RLS isn't a life-threatening condition, the agency was unwilling to approve a drug with that kind of risk.

"The unexpected setback in the approval of Horizant has forced us to conduct a thorough review of our operating plans. We have made the difficult decision to restructure the company to prioritize later-stage development activity and eliminate our discovery research efforts," says Ronald Barrett, Ph.D., XenoPort's CEO. The move will save the company about $15.6 million annually.

XenoPort says it would continue to pursue approval of Horizant in the U.S. and Japan. It's also working to complete a Phase IIb trial of arbaclofen placarbil in gastroesophageal reflux disease and initiating a Phase II trial of XP21279 for Parkinson's disease.

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