Progenics axes 26% of staff as biotech restructures

Progenics Pharmaceuticals ($PGNX) has revealed more plans to shrink its operation, with the Tarrytown, NY-based biotech slashing 26% of its staff to 77 workers and saying goodbye to its CFO Robert McKinney and SVP of quality, Benedict Osorio. The two execs plan to step down at the end of the month, the company said Thursday.

The drug developer has tightened its belt in recent years and narrowed its focus on advancing new cancer treatments. Chief Executive Mark Baker wants to reserve capital for a mid-stage study of an experimental drug, PSMA ADC, to address the big market for prostate-cancer treatments, and his company has let go of several early-stage R&D projects as part of the restructuring. Though it plans to keep a preclinical PI3K program intact.

"This restructuring reflects our commitment to strategic goals we announced a year ago, when we directed our resources toward addressing the growing need for novel and improved cancer therapies. Our top clinical priority remains advancing PSMA ADC, while continuing to evaluate strategic in-licensing opportunities," Baker said in a statement.

On top of the exit from early stage research, the company blamed the layoffs on decisions to out-license its pain drug Relistor to Salix Pharmaceuticals ($SLXP) and to phase out other programs outside of cancer research. Progenics also missed out on a $40 million milestone payment from Salix when the FDA decided not to grant a new approval for Relistor for chronic non-cancer pain, according to Progenics.

- here's the release