Medivation axes 20% of staff in follow-up to trial failure

Just four weeks after Medivation announced that its closely-watched late-stage trial for dimebon failed to demonstrate that it could do any better than a placebo in combating the effects of Alzheimer's, the San Francisco-based developer says it will chop 20 percent of its workforce. The cuts will cost 23 jobs at Medivation (MDVN), which is husbanding its resources for ongoing studies related to dimebon and its cancer drug, MDV3100.

The cuts include the jobs of two of the developer's senior managers. Karen Reeves, M.D., senior vice president, clinical development and Lisa Taylor, vice president, commercial development, are leaving the company, and Medivation is suspending efforts to recruit a new CFO.

"Additional near-term priorities for 2010 include completing patient accrual in two of the ongoing dimebon trials, CONCERT, a 12-month Aricept combination study in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's patients, and HORIZON, a six-month study in Huntington disease patients, and completing patient accrual in the AFFIRM trial of MDV3100 in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer," says CEO David Hung.

The Phase III Alzheimer's trial had been one of the most closely watched in biotech circles. Intrigued by promising mid-stage data and the prospect that any Alzheimer's drug deemed safe with even modest efficacy data faced a likely approval for a blockbuster market, Pfizer paid $225 million upfront to partner on the drug. Once word got out about dimebon's failure early this month, MDVN shares plunged 68 percent.

- here's the press release for more info