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Aug 2, 2012

Pharming Sharpens Ax as Layoffs Loom

  • Positioning itself for layoffs, Pharming said today it filed with Dutch authorities a restructuring plan of its operations in The Netherlands that is intended to slice costs by about €3.5 million to €5 million ($4.3 million to $6.1 million) annually over the coming 12–18 months.

    Such plans are required when companies are set to lay off more than 20 staffers. But in a statement disclosing the restructuring plan, Pharming did not specify how many employees it would lay off—but did say the plan would continue a companywide restructuring effort that began last year.

    “This restructuring will allow Pharming to implement the next steps in its business strategy: transitioning from a mainly internal research driven model to a market-driven, externally focused collaborative research and development model,” CEO Sijmen de Vries said in the statement.

    In June, Pharming shut down its US cattle platform research facility, which it sold off a month later to Sexing Technologies. Pharming said the shutdown reflected the declining importance of transgenic cattle research and legacy proteins such as fibrinogen, lactoferrin, and collagen, to Pharming's future strategy.

    That strategy includes in part developing Ruconest® (INN conestat alfa), a recombinant version of the human protein C1 inhibitor (C1INH). Ruconest is now undergoing a Phase III clinical study expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter. Ruconest is being evaluated for acute attacks of angioedema in patients with hereditary angioedema (HAE) at 50 U/kg, with a primary endpoint of time to beginning of relief of symptoms.

    If Pharming meets that endpoint, it would receive a $10-million milestone payment from U.S. partner Santarus, which has licensed exclusive rights to commercialize Ruconest in North America for acute HAE attacks and other future indications. Pharming could also receive $5 million from Santarus if FDA approves the drug’s Biologics License Application

    On Tuesday, Pharming said it secured capital to ensure the clinical trial is carried through to completion—namely an equity working capital facility of up to €10 million ($12.2 million) for a two-year term, with Kingsbrook Opportunities Master Fund LP as lead investor and other undisclosed institutional investors.

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