Amira slashes staff in a bid to slow burn rate

Faced with a tough financing climate, San Diego-based Amira Pharmaceuticals is changing its tune--as well as its business plan. Amira officials say they are being forced to cut its staff in half and bid farewell to the company's trio of scientific founders as the biotech makes a transition out of discovery and focuses more on clinical development work.

Just last September CEO Bob Baltera told FierceBiotech that the developer was on the crux of forging a new partnership pact that would look much like GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) $425 million partnership deal. That new money, he said, would help fund the company without any new injection of cash from venture groups.

But on Tuesday he told Xconomy, which broke the restructuring story, that the deep cuts were needed to conserve cash and extend the developer's finance runway by two years. Merck vets Peppi Prasit, Jilly Evans, and John Hutchinson are all leaving their positions at Amira, a 2010 Fierce 15 company. The layoffs--which will reduce the staff to 25--were announced inside the company last week.

"In a different time and place, we'd be in a different place than we are. These are hard decisions," Baltera told the tech news group.

- here's the story from Xconomy