Chimerix said it has eliminated about 20% of its workforce following the failure of its lead product candidate, the antiviral treatment brincidofovir, in a pivotal trial late last year.
The contraction amounts to 26 jobs—the difference between the 131 full-time employees the company said it employed as of December 31, 2015, and the 105 full-time employees that Cimerix said in its Form 10-K annual report constitute its remaining workforce following its workforce reduction “in early 2016.”
Chimerix blamed the layoffs on the failure of its Phase III SUPPRESS pivotal trial of brincidofovir for the prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) in hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). The trial missed its primary endpoint of prevention of clinically significant CMV infection through week 24 after transplant, the company said in a December 28 statement.
Among the SUPPRESS trial’s 452 patients, fewer of those in the brincidofovir arm had a CMV infection during the on-treatment period through week 14 after HCT—results consistent with the candidate’s Phase II study. However, CMV infections in the brincidofovir arm increased compared with the control arm from weeks 14 to 24. At week 24, 51% of patients with clinically significant CMV infection were randomized to brincidofovir, compared with 52% to placebo, Chimerix reported on February 20.
The brincidofovir arm also saw a “non-statistically significant” increase in mortality compared to the control arm, Chimerix said.
The company added that a preliminary analysis attributed the primary endpoint failures in both prevention of CMV infections and mortality in the brincidofovir arm to confirmed cases of graft-versus-host-disease, which resulted in a significantly higher use of corticosteroids than in the control arm.
“The principal objective of the reduction in workforce was to enable us to focus our financial resources on the continued clinical development of brincidofovir,” Chimerix stated in the regulatory filing. “Reducing costs is a key element of our current business strategy.”
The company finished 2015 with a net loss of $117.4 million, compared with a net loss of $59.3 million for 2014.
Chimerix said it anticipated taking a charge of approximately $1.4 million against earnings this year related to one-time termination benefits.
Brincidofovir, also known as CMX001, is an oral nucleotide analog that according to Chimerix has shown in vitro antiviral activity against all five families of DNA viruses that affect humans, including the herpesviruses and adenovirus.
Chimerix is also developing brincidofovir for adenovirus infections, and is working with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop brincidofovir as a medical countermeasure against smallpox. Brincidofovir has received Fast Track designation from the FDA for smallpox, as well as for CMV and adenovirus.