Palatin slashes staff, dumps research program

Palatin Technologies is cutting about a third of its workforce and dumping one of its lead development programs--an effort to find a better tolerated successor to sildenafil. After studying research results, Palatin has discontinued development of bremelanotide for the treatment of male and female sexual dysfunction, focusing its research on the therapy for hemorrhagic shock and related indications. Researchers will launch a Phase IIa study of PL-3994 this quarter in patients with controlled hypertension. A Phase IIa study of PL-3994 for acute congestive heart follows next year.

Palatin suffered a serious blow last summer over regulatory questions regarding spikes in the blood pressure of volunteers taking the drug. Its partner in the effort, King Pharmaceuticals, bowed out and Palatin launched a strategic review of its operations. The staff cut will bring the company's head count down to 45.

"Palatin has had a strong and productive research effort focused on two challenging and exciting scientific areas: melanocortin and natriuretic peptide receptors," said CEO Carl Spana. "Concentrating our efforts on value drivers and matching our resources to those projects with the highest potential for near-term success is our immediate priority."

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