Rigel refocuses resources, cuts 30 jobs
Rigel Pharmaceuticals plans to focus resources on the completion of three lead clinical programs. These efforts include a phase III clinical study of fostamatinib, an oral SYK inhibitor, in Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), pending discussions with regulatory agencies. Rigel believes that a phase III clinical program would encompass approximately 150 patients and can be completed in 2015.
Rigel's other two lead programs, R333, a topical dermatological JAK/SYK inhibitor for discoid lupus erythematosus, and R348, a topical ophthalmic JAK/SYK inhibitor for dry eye, are presently in phase II studies, with results expected in Q4 2013 and Q2 2014, respectively. Rigel expects to advance one of these two molecules into a phase III clinical program by 2014/15.
The company will not continue further development of fostamatinib for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis or lymphoma due to insufficient efficacy findings from recent clinical trials and the competitive landscape for the agent in those indications.
"We have made a decision to concentrate our resources on the programs that we believe hold the greatest potential for a near term path to market," said James M. Gower, chairman and chief executive officer of Rigel. "The size and scope of these clinical programs are such that we can fund and manage them in-house, thereby maintaining control and flexibility over their development."
As a consequence of prioritizing projects and looking to conserve the company's cash resources, Rigel also reduced its workforce by 18%, eliminating 30 positions, mostly from the drug discovery area. The company is still assessing the restructuring and other charges associated with this measure. As of June 30, the company had $251 million in cash and equivalents, which Rigel believes is enough to maintain its current development priorities into 2016.