PHARMACY

Targanta announces reduction in force by 75%

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A biotech company that specializes in antibiotics to treat serious infections announced Thursday that it would reduce its workforce by three quarters.

Targanta Therapeutics Corp. will lay off about 75 percent of its 86 employees, leaving it with 27, by the end of this month. 

The company said the action was meant to preserve capital while maintaining key personnel to support the regulatory process for oritavancin, a semi-synthetic lipoglycopeptide antibiotic that Targanta says can kill a wide range of bacteria, including many resistant to conventional antibiotics. The company hopes to gain regulatory approval for oritavancin in the United States and the European Union. 

“This restructuring in no way reflects the tireless efforts and tremendous contributions of the Targanta team, who have worked so hard to advance this much-needed antibiotic therapy,” Targanta president and CEO Mark Leuchtenberger said in a statement. 

The layoffs will affect the highest levels of the company. Chief development officer Pierre Etienne, chief commercial officer Mona Haynes and vice president of operations and head of Targanta’s Indianapolis site Roger Miller will leave the company, according to Targanta’s statement.

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Biosimilars could save significant amounts in healthcare costs, report concludes

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. A report by the Congressional Budget Office on the potential savings that biosimilars could create has drawn a response from the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

“As Congress grapples with both the economic and healthcare crises facing our nation, the CBO Budget Options Report is concrete evidence that bringing safe, effective and affordable biogenerics to patients can result in significant healthcare cost savings for the federal government,” GPhA president and chief executive officer Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement.

“Specifically, the CBO Budget Options Report states that establishing a pathway for the approval of biogenerics will result in a multi-billion dollar savings potential for the federal government.”

Currently, the law does not permit the Food and Drug Administration to approve biosimilars, sometimes called biogenerics.

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FDA approves Genzyme drug to support bone marrow transplant recovery

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug by Genzyme that helps increase the number of blood stem cells for bone marrow transplantation in patients with certain forms of blood cancer, according to an FDA statement Thursday.

Mozobil (plerixafor) is for use with the growth factor granulocyte-colony stimulating factor for treatment of adults with multiple myeloma or non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas.

Before receiving high-dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy, patients with these forms of cancer sometimes undergo a procedure known as apheresis, in which blood stem cells are collected and stored for infusion after therapy.

Patients receive G-CSF to help release and collect stem cells from the bone marrow. When used with G-CSF, Mozobil boosts the number of stem cells released from the bone marrow into the blood stream.

“Collecting the millions of cells needed for a bone marrow transplant can take hours or days,” director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s Office of Oncology Drug Products Richard Pazdur said in a statement. “Mobozil provides a new therapeutic option for patients with certain types of blood cancers by increasing the number of stem cells collected in a given time period to be reinfused after therapy.”

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