Fierce Biotech Layoff Tracker 2024: Cell therapy biotech Clade makes cuts; Two Flagship startups lay off staff

We really didn't want to have to create another Layoff Tracker this year. But here we are, launching the third annual iteration tracking industry layoffs. 

Last year, we tallied 187 total layoffs among biotech companies, a 57% jump compared to 119 in 2022. We hope that trend reverses itself in 2024.

As always, if you know of a layoff occurring at a biotech, please reach out to the Fierce Biotech editorial team and let us know. 


February—9 companies

February 20 - Ring Therapeutics: A Flagship Pioneering spokesperson confirmed that Ring Therapeutics laid off 19 employees, representing less than 20% of the company. The news came days after another fellow Flagship biotech, Sonata Therapeutics, confirmed cutting costs as well. 

February 16 - Clade Therapeutics: Cell therapy biotech Clade recently laid off employees, Chief Business Officer and co-founder Jim Glasheen, Ph.D., said in LinkedIn post. The company declined to comment further when asked. LinkedIn

February 16 - Sonata Therapeutics: Sonata Therapeutics, part of the Flagship Pioneering ecosystem, has laid off 21 employees, or roughly a third of employees, a spokesperson confirmed. The cuts are a result of the company refocusing its strategy "around its most immediate priorities" and were first reported by STAT News. 

February 15 - Aurinia Pharmaceuticals: After failing to attract a buyer, the biotech has resorted to trimming its workforce by 25% and cleaning out its R&D pipeline. Aurinia said the layoffs won't affect commercial or commercial-supporting roles. Story

February 13 - LianBio: The Chinese company has become the latest biotech to throw in the towel, with a prolonged dissolution expected closer to 2027. The biotech anticipates laying off 50 full-time employees—half of its staff—by the end of March, with “additional workforce reductions” due to occur during the year. Story

February 9 - Roche: The Swiss drug developer plans to lay off a few hundred people in its product development team. Roche says it expects “the majority of the proposed headcount reduction to impact external contractors,” with less than 6% of the permanent product development team potentially impacted. Story

February 9 - Synlogic: The Massachusetts-based biotech is discontinuing a pivotal phase 3 trial, shuttering operations and laying off more than 90% of its workforce as it undergoes a strategic review. Story

February 8 - Sandoz: 20 years ago, Sandoz carved out a sizable generics foothold through dual mergers with Germany's Hexal and U.S.-based Eon Labs. Now, the Swiss manufacturing giant is permanently closing one of the latter company's main facilities in Wilson, North Carolina, with 213 employees set to be laid off by Oct. 4. Story

February 6 - Rallybio: The biotech is parting ways with 45% of its staff, or 19 employees, and focusing on its two phase 2-ready programs to extend its cash runway into the middle of 2026. Story

 

January—24 companies

January 31 - Xencor: The California-based biotech has undergone a 10% workforce reduction impacting 25 positions, a company spokesperson confirmed with Fierce Biotech. The company is focusing more intently on high potential T cell engagers and narrow evaluation for its investigational dual checkpoint inhibitor, dubbed vudalimab, according to the spokesperson.

January 31 - Rakuten Medical: Oncology biotech Rakuten has made an undisclosed number of workforce cuts, a company spokesperson confirmed with Fierce Biotech.

January 31 - Atara Biotherapeutics: After a phase 2 flop late last year, the allogeneic T-cell company has undergone two layoff rounds, most recently sending 25% of staff and Chief Medical Officer Manher (AJ) Joshi, M.D., out the door. The January workforce reduction equates to 44 people and follows a layoff round that included 73 staffers in December 2023. Story

January 30 - 2seventy bio: The cell therapy company is offloading pre-clinical and clinical cell therapy programs to Regeneron to form a new unit, sending 160 employees over to Regeneron. The remaining workforce, which will focus on approved med Abecma, will be downsized to only 65 employees, with about 55 people laid off. Story

January 29 - Pfizer: After announcing 285 job cuts at a New York R&D site earlier this month, the Big Pharma is expecting more layoffs, this time for 52 employees at a facility in South San Francisco, according to a WARN report. Story

January 29 - Hookipa Pharma: After Roche ended an alliance with Hookipa, the company has chosen to lay off 30% (about 55 people) of its workforce and focus on a slimmed-down list of candidates. Story

January 26 - Strand Therapeutics: The programmable mRNA biotech is letting go 18% of staff, according to a company LinkedIn post. The cuts are being made so Strand can continue investing in its discovery programs and move forward with its first clinical trial, according to the company. Release

January 22 - Cara Therapeutics: The pruritus-focused drug developer is l​​​​​aying off up to half of its staff as it narrows its clinical ambitions. The restructuring will extend Cara's cash runway into 2026. Story

January 19 - Ikena Oncology: Looking to stretch its $175 million cash pile into the second half of 2026, the biotech is laying off around 20 people. The 35% headcount reduction will mainly affect drug discovery positions and will leave Ikena with around 37 full-time employees. Story

January 19 - PMV Pharma: The precision oncology biotech is laying off 30% of staff as it prioritizes pushing its lead solid tumor candidate toward a phase 2 trial in the coming months. Story

January 18 - Bayer: The German pharma is launching a sweeping business overhaul that will “come at the expense of many managerial employees,” according to chairwoman of the executives committee on Bayer’s supervisory board, Barbara Gansewend. The cuts will begin in the coming months and will end in 2025, the company said without providing a specific number of roles impacted. Story

January 17 - Dewpoint Therapeutics: Condensate-focused Dewpoint Therapeutics has laid off 18 employees and narrowed its pipeline following two lost pharma collaborations. Pfizer and Merck both moved on from partnered programs but the biotech is pressing forward with its lead asset, set to enter the clinic in the first half of 2025. Story

January 16 - Allakos: Allakos' decision to ax its lead asset came at the cost of substantial human capital, with the biotech laying off half its staff. The final nails in the coffin for lirentelimab were two midstage failures in patients with eczema and chronic spontaneous urticaria. Story

January 10 - C4 Therapeutics: Two months after discontinuing one of its cancer assets, the small molecule medicines biotech has revealed a 30% workforce reduction, impacting a total of 45 positions. Story

January 8 - Affimed: Affimed is dissolving its research and preclinical development teams, cutting 50% of its staff as a result. The company says all funds will go toward its clinical-stage programs, which include a package of innate cell engages. Release

January 8 - Exelixis: Around 175 Exelixis employees are heading for the exits in the coming months, a workforce reduction that represents 13% of the company's total workforce. Story

January 8 - Organon: In the fourth quarter of 2023, Organon implemented restructuring activities across certain markets and functions which impacted about 3% of employees, a company spokesperson told Fierce Biotech via email on Jan. 8. 

January 5 - Allogene: Off-the-shelf cell therapy biotech Allogene laid off 22% of its employees as part of a clinical reshuffling that now has the company focused on first-line lymphoma patients who have minimal residual disease following six cycles of chemotherapy. The layoffs are expected to cost the company between $5-5.5 million in severance payments and benefits. Disclosure

January 5 - NanoString Technologies: To cut costs, the company is laying off about 50 employees, representing 9% of its global workforce. The workforce reduction is expected to be complete by March 31. Release

January 5 - Senti Bio: The cell and gene therapy biotech is cutting its workforce down by 37% and prioritizing resources on SENTI-202, an off-the-shelf CAR-NK candidate being tested for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and other hematologic malignancies in a phase 1 clinical trial, with the first patient expected to be dosed in the second quarter of this year. Release

January 5 - AlloVir: Less than a month after suffering a triple phase 3 failure, the allogeneic T cell immunotherapy biotech is cutting 95% of its workforce. The cuts are expected to take place mostly in the first quarter of this year and finish up by Apr. 15. Story

January 4 - Aera Therapeutics: The genetic medicine company has laid off a quarter of its staff. The biotech only just emerged from stealth a year ago in February 2023 with $193 million. Story

January 4 - Intellia Therapeutics: The CRISPR company is laying off 15% of its team after pausing exploratory research work. Story

January 4 - Pfizer: The Big Pharma's vaccine R&D site in Pearl River, NY is expecting to lay off 285 employees starting in February, according to a New York WARN notice. The spot is one of Pfizer’s nine major R&D sites and currently employs 1,012 workers. The layoff wave is set to conclude by March 25. Release