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Oct 28, 2009

Phase II Failure Forces SciClone to Eliminate 17% of Staff

  • SciClone Pharmaceuticals’ recent discontinuation of its Phase II pancreatic cancer drug prompted the company to cut back its staff. About 17% of its U.S.-based workforce, primarily those in R&D, will be eliminated.

    On October 2, SciClone axed a Phase II randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial evaluating RP101, a nucleoside analog. The decision was based on the recommendation of the Data Safety Monitoring Committee. The firm says that it will reveal more details once the data is unblended.

    With this news SciClone’s stock dropped almost 14.7% in the first day of trading, from $4.15 at the close of October 2 to $3.54 during early morning trading on October 5. The company is now valued at about $2.52 per share.

    As a result of the restructuring, SciClone anticipates incurring a one-time charge of approximately $0.3 million. This includes severance and other expenses associated with the workforce-reduction plan.

    “We are committed to moving SciClone toward sustainable profitability,” remarks Friedhelm Blobel, Ph.D., president and CEO. “With streamlined operations, decreased expenditures, and expected robust global sales, we believe we are fully on track to realize that objective.”

    SciClone has one drug on the market, Zadaxin, which is sold in over 30 countries for the treatment of HBV and HCV, certain cancers, and as a vaccine adjuvant. The company’s pipeline of candidates includes thymalfasin in preclinical studies as an enhancer of H1N1 flu vaccines, thymalfasin in Phase III for stage IV melanoma, SCV-07 in a Phase II study for delaying the onset of severe oral mucositis in patients receiving chemoradiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck, and SCV-07 in a Phase II trial in HCV.

    SciClone has exclusive commercialization and distribution rights to DC Bead™, a liver cancer treatment, in China. It is currently undergoing regulatory review. The company also has commercialization and distribution rights to the antinausea drug ondansetron RapidFilm™ in China and Vietnam, for which it is seeking regulatory approval.



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