Struggling Cell Therapeutics chops 36 workers

After being ridiculed by analysts over its recent pummeling at the FDA for the way it handled a Phase III trial of the cancer drug pixantrone, Seattle-based Cell Therapeutics has pink slipped 36 employees in an effort to cut its burn rate by $16 million a year.

"The company's total projected operating expenses, excluding equity based compensation, are expected to be approximately $60 million in 2010, which is a 21 percent reduction from its previously projected estimates," the company said in a release. "As a result of reducing these expenses, the company is targeting an average net operating burn rate of approximately $4.4 million per month starting in the second quarter of 2010."

The news comes just six days after the FDA formally rejected pixantrone. An FDA advisory panel had already hit the company hard for the way it handled a Phase III trial of the lymphoma drug, voting unanimously against a recommendation for the drug after questioning the developer's ability to recruit only 140 patients in a trial designed to recruit 320. Now analysts are asking how the company plans to pay for a new trial being demanded by the agency.

- take a look at CTI's release for more info