Struggling ARYx terminates staff, vows to get back on track

After struggling to stay afloat for more than a year, ARYx Therapeutics announced last night that it was forced to terminate its entire remaining staff and hire back workers as consultants as it waits for an FDA agreement on a special protocol assessment for a pivotal study. And with the agency signaling that the SPA can't be finalized until sometime in the first quarter of next year, the biotech says that it can't complete a new financing deal needed to fund its work.

A little more than a year ago, ARYx had a staff of 73 employees based in Fremont, CA. But it executed a big round of layoffs in October of 2009, vowing that it was closing in on three pacts for late-stage products. A second round of layoffs followed in the first quarter of this year after the developer said that licensing discussions for its antiarrythmia drug budiadarone fell through. By the summer, it was forced to rely on a $6.3 million bridge loan to stay afloat. And its CEO is still vowing to right the ship.

"Our efforts over 2010 convinced us that the most significant value from our product candidates could be achieved through the continued internal development of naronapride," ARYx CEO Paul Goddard said in a statement. "The substantial funding we sought would allow us to complete the first of two planned pivotal Phase II clinical trials for naronapride, at which time we would either seek a partner for the continued development of naronapride or look to raise additional funding to complete the development of the compound."

Under the approved restructuring plan, the company noted, all employees of ARYx, including officers, have been terminated effective December 15, 2010. All employees have entered into consulting agreements to continue to provide to ARYx services needed to allow the company to continue to function, including facilitating the on-going FDA interactions. Each of the officers currently remains in their respective roles.

- here's the Aryx release