Columbia Labs axing 42% of jobs after FDA shoots down drug application

Fresh off the setback of an FDA denial, Columbia Laboratories ($CBRX) will cut deeply into its workforce and let go 42% of its employees, the company said. The drug developer expects to shave $1.5 million from its annual expenses and plod forward with partner Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI) to advance a vaginal progesterone gel that recently failed to gain FDA approval. 

In the meantime, Columbia is weighing "all strategic options moving forward," the company said.

Livingston, NJ-based Columbia is sending pink slips to 10 of its 24 workers, with the majority of the cuts made to jobs in research and development and administration, according to the company's release. The leaner workforce of 14 employees plans to forge ahead with the company's programs, which make use of its bio-adhesive drug delivery technologies.

The layoffs come after the company's announcement on Monday that the FDA handed Columbia and Watson a complete response letter for their application for approval of the progesterone gel for lowering risk of preterm births. U.S. regulators told the companies that more data on the efficacy of the treatment was needed before it could be considered for approval again.

"Our action today is difficult, particularly because we greatly appreciate the contributions of those we must let go," Columbia CEO Frank Condella said in a statement. "However, it is a step we must take to streamline operations and secure the company's positive financial position."

- here's the release