Inspire slashes 65 jobs, drops failed CF drug in restructuring

Inspire Pharmaceuticals ($ISPH) says it will shelve its failed CF therapy denufosol and slash 65 workers from its payroll as it shifts its R&D focus to eye drugs. The cuts, 27 percent of its total staff and close to half of its non-sales group, are designed to save about $40 million.

"We conducted a strategic evaluation of our operations following the recent announcement of the disappointing results with our cystic fibrosis program and believe the prudent strategy for Inspire is to leverage our eye care business and discontinue our pulmonary therapeutic focus," Inspire CEO and President Adrian Adams said in a statement. "Therefore, we are implementing a substantial corporate restructuring that we anticipate will enable us to drive toward profitability and positive cash flow by significantly reducing our cost base and cash burn."

The Raleigh, NC-based biotech was left with little choice after it sat down to analyze a batch of Phase III data for cystic fibrosis. The company's lead therapy failed to hit the primary endpoint as well as three secondary endpoints, falling short of statistically significant responses when compared to a placebo. The news sent the company's share price into a tailspin.

Inspire lost $35.4 million last year, following a $40 million loss the year before. And just last summer R&D chief Benjamin Yerxa departed from Inspire, driven at least in part by Adams' decision to focus more on commercial operations as the CF study drew to a close. Now Adams wants investors to focus back on R&D and other drugs in the pipeline.

Last December Inspire launched a Phase II clinical trial comparing AZASITE to vehicle for four weeks of treatment with an eight-week follow-up period in up to 300 blepharitis patients at approximately 25 U.S. sites. Inspire expects information from this trial in the second half of this year.

- here's the Inspire release