Valeant starts carving up what remains of Dendreon, axing 77 staffers

Valeant ($VRX) has wasted no time in getting down to brass tacks at its newly acquired subsidiary Dendreon. The company notified the state of Washington that it is laying off 77 staffers from the biotech's steadily shrinking roster of employees, according to a report from the Seattle Times.

The most recent wave of layoffs started on the day after Valeant--well known for a strategy that rests heavily on buying drug assets and stripping costs--closed its $495 million deal to buy Dendreon out of bankruptcy, grabbing the once lauded prostate cancer therapy Provenge. As the Times notes, Dendreon had 1,475 employees three years ago. But the rank-and-file had shrunk to less than half that number by the time Dendreon filed for bankruptcy protection last fall.

Provenge famously failed to live up to its high expectations, beset by competing drugs that were easier to make and less expensive to administer than the $93,000 personalized treatment Dendreon pioneered.

Seattle's biotech community has been hit hard by Dendreon's shrinking footprint, though high-flying startups like Juno--with ex-Dendreon COO Hans Bishop at the helm--have been making up for some of the losses. According to the state's list of posted WARN notices, Amgen ($AMGN) officially passed on word of its plans for 274 permanent layoffs at the end of last year. Amgen announced plans to shut down its R&D campus in the region last summer. And Novo Nordisk ($NVO) reported cutting 63 staffers last fall.

- here's the story from the Seattle Times