Hit with 'current market realities,' Heron axes more than a 3rd of 300-person workforce

Heron Therapeutics has joined the gaggle of biotechs laying off staff, cutting a third of its workforce as part of restructuring efforts that could bring an annual $43 million in savings.

The layoffs will account for most of the biotech’s cost savings, with 34% of the total workforce affected, which would represent about 106 employees, based on the 313 employees listed on LinkedIn. About 70% of the workforce cuts will come from research and development jobs.  

Heron’s stock slipped more than 12% Thursday to $2.76 compared to a prior close of $3.17.

"To address the current market realities and the macro headwinds facing many commercial-stage biotechnology companies, we are enacting critical plans to protect Heron's long-term sustainability and growth plans,” Barry Quart, chairman and CEO of Heron, said in a June 30 release.

The restructuring efforts aim to extend Heron's cash runway and allow the company to focus in on its acute care and oncology care franchises.

The entire industry has been facing a reckoning amid widespread layoffs, clinical setbacks and a tough market downturn. In the last three months, the bear market has forced at least 28 biotechs to lay off staff.

Heron’s remaining R&D team will support the recent label expansion for Zynrelef, an opioid alternative for postoperative pain that was initially slated by analysts to be a blockbuster drug but failed to live up to expectations at the end of 2021. Heron’s other focuses include FDA-approved oncology care products Cinvanti and Sustol, both antiemetics.

The R&D team will also focus on HTX-019, an injectable treatment to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting that is currently awaiting FDA approval. Heron anticipates hearing back from the agency by Sept. 17.

Other cost-saving efforts include cuts to administrative expenses and reduced external spend.

"These restructuring and cost reduction actions, while difficult, are necessary to address the challenging operating landscape and better position Heron to improve the lives of patients while creating long-term value for shareholders,” Quart concluded.

To read more about layoffs across the biotech industry, check out Fierce Biotech's Layoff Tracker.