Vedanta CEO blames 'challenging environment for biotech' for laying off 20% of staff

Even for a biotech bear market, August is looking like a particularly brutal month for workforce layoffs. The latest company to let go of staff is Vedanta Biosciences.

In a LinkedIn post yesterday evening, Vedanta CEO Bernat Olle, Ph.D., said that the microbiome-focused company will be “letting go of approximately 20% of our staff across functions including research, operations, quality, program management, clinical and [general and administrative].”

“We are navigating a challenging economic environment in biotech and have had to make hard decisions to support our pipeline priorities and ensure the continuity of Vedanta’s vision to enable a new drug modality based on defined bacterial consortia,” Olle added.

The company completed a $68 million series D funding round in July 2021, with proceeds expected to support a phase 3 trial of its lead candidate VE303 in Clostridioides difficile infection and a phase 2 trial of its candidate VE202 in inflammatory bowel disease. But in the same announcement, the biotech revealed that a phase 1 trial partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb to test Opdivo in combination with 11 clonal human commensal bacterial strains had come up short.

To get a sense of how tough it is out there for biotech employees at the moment, Olle wasn’t even the only CEO announcing workforce cutbacks yesterday. Absci’s Sean McClain published his own a message on the biologics company’s website explaining his regret at a "workforce reduction."

Including these latest announcements, Fierce Biotech has so far recorded seven companies that have announced layoffs in August alone. If the industry continues at this pace, August could match the heights of March and April, when 17 companies each month made similar pronouncements.

To read more about layoffs across the biotech industry, check out Fierce Biotech's Layoff Tracker.