Eikon cuts staff 'to become more efficient,' letter from CEO Roger Perlmutter reveals

Eikon Therapeutics, a biotech that snatched several big-name executives from Merck & Co. and raked in some of the largest financing rounds in recent memory, has cut staff in an effort to “become more efficient.”

“As I discussed at the all-hands meeting last month, our recent success in advancing new programs requires that we become more selective in allocating our resources,” CEO Roger Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., wrote to all employees in a letter dated Oct. 5 that was obtained by Fierce Biotech. “Today, after careful consideration, we took action to help address this challenge.”

In a nod to the challenges ongoing across the industry, Perlmutter said, “The plain fact is that our company, like all companies, must evolve to become more efficient.”

The layoffs, which took place this week, were confirmed by multiple sources familiar with the matter. A spokesperson for Eikon did not return a request for comment as of publication. 

Eikon emerged in May 2021 to much fanfare with former Merck EVP Perlmutter at the helm. The company’s stated goal was to apply live-cell super-resolution microscopy to drug discovery. But the biotech has been famously tight-lipped about the discovery process as it reeled in megaround after megaround. It eventually deployed some of its $660 million reservoir earlier this summer to buy up four clinical-stage assets, although financial terms were not disclosed.

Perlmutter has now told staff that after consulting with the executive committee, changes had to be made to the company’s headcount.

“I want you to know that we did not take these decisions lightly,” the CEO wrote. “It was especially important to the executive team that all those whose positions were eliminated were treated with respect.”

To that end, Perlmutter noted that those leaving the company were offered “meaningful severance benefits” and help in finding their next gig.

Perlmutter stressed—with underlined text in the letter—that no further rounds of layoffs are expected.

“I also want you to know that we believe that all necessary actions have now been taken. While no one can predict the future with certainty, we are not planning further modifications of Eikon’s corporate structure at this point,” he wrote.

The CEO promised more details on the corporate changes to be announced over the next few days.

Last month, Eikon revealed that its new clinical programs had been integrated into the pipeline and the FDA had cleared the Impact Therapeutics-partnered PARP1 inhibitor IMP1734 for a phase 1 trial that is slated to get underway in the fourth quarter.

The biotech's advanced candidate is BDB001, which is in phase 1 testing for treatment-resistant advanced malignancies.