NeoRx restructuring cuts staff 40%

January 16, 1991

NeoRx trimmed more of its staff last month as it awaits Food andDrug Administration approval for its monoclonal antibody medicalimaging agents. The Seattle biotechnology firm combined researchlaboratories and reduced its work force by about 40%, Paul

NeoRx trimmed more of its staff last month as it awaits Food andDrug Administration approval for its monoclonal antibody medicalimaging agents. The Seattle biotechnology firm combined researchlaboratories and reduced its work force by about 40%, Paul G.Abrams, president and CEO, told SCAN.

NeoRx had reduced its staff by about a third last year priorto initiating a search for a large pharmaceutical partner to helpcommercialize its monoclonal antibody products (SCAN 9/12/90).Negotiations are continuing with several prospects, Abrams said.

"Things like this usually don't get done in less thannine months or so," he said. "People have to take alook, kick a few tires and come back. We are continuing to talk."

The firm will not speculate when Food and Drug Administrationapproval might come through for monoclonal antibody imaging agentsin the U.S. The layoffs, however, were not a reaction to fearsthat the FDA process will drag on even longer, he said.

Indications are that the regulatory agency is making some strideson the monoclonal antibody issue, although it is uncertain whenthe first approvals will occur, he said.

"Until you get a signature on the dotted line, you justdon't know (about FDA approval). You could be up to the last issue,but that could take some time," he said.

NeoRx is actually increasing its resources committed to R&D,Abrams said. The firm had maintained an R&D force along witha separate operations group. Some staff members who had workedin operations will be reassigned to research, he said.

"We are ready for a (good manufacturing practices) inspectionby the FDA, but, in the meantime, we can focus on some other (development)activities within the company," he said.

About one-third of the firm's research activities will focuson new product development, with the other two-thirds used tosupport phase one studies of Rhenex rhenium-labeled antitumortherapy agents and Oncotrac cancer imaging products. NeoRx hasapplied for market approval of two Oncotrac agents, targeted atmelanoma and small cell lung cancer, he said.