Cardiome eliminating 85% of staff after Merck deal evaporates

Cardiome's ($CRME) rather vague plans to cut expenses following the loss of a key partnership acquired some cruel clarity today for the biotech's staffers. The developer says it will ax 85% of its staff after Merck pulled out of its deal to partner on an oral version of vernakalant.

Merck ($MRK) dropped its pact of oral vernakalant, a treatment for an irregular heartbeat, after concluding that the regulatory environment and development schedule had stacked the odds against the program. Merck stayed in its partnership on the IV version of vernakalant.

"We very much regret that this decision of the Board will affect the individuals that have contributed over the past years to Cardiome." said Dr. William Hunter, interim CEO, "I want to express my appreciation to everyone for their hard work, passion and commitment. We believe this action was necessary to maximize shareholder value by effective management of Cardiome's cash resources and continued focus on our ongoing partnership with Merck on BRINAVESS IV."

The announcement came just a few days after CEO Doug Janzen announced his departure. The plan to largely eviscerate the staff at the Vancouver-based biotech will fall on internal research activities and support staff. 

- here's the press release

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CEO at troubled Cardiome exits in midst of reorganization
Cardiome whips out budget ax as Merck dumps oral heart drug pact

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