Drug Development, Workforce

Blitzed by trial failures, OncoMed axes half its staff and retrenches around PhI drugs

OncoMed CEO Paul J. Hastings

OncoMed $OMED is capping a disastrous month with a move to ax half its staff, leaving 64 workers behind to execute on a new business plan.

Over the last few weeks the Redwood City, CA-based biotech has reported back-to-back Phase II failures for its top drugs, demcizumab and tarextumab, setbacks that blitzed its share price and raised serious doubts about its future. So now its executive team is giving the company some breathing room on the burn rate as it looks to salvage a future through its collaboration with Celgene.

That calls for:

  • Enrolling patients in the rosmantuzumab (anti-RSPO3, OMP-131R10) Phase 1a/Ib trial, the two Phase Ib clinical trials of navicixizumab (anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific, OMP-305B83) and the Phase Ia trial of anti-TIGIT (OMP-313M32), covering antibodies partnered with Celgene and tied to up to $98 million in milestones.
  • Filing an IND for GITRL-Fc trimer (OMP-336B11) in the first half of the year.
  • And attempting to push forward with new discovery efforts.

As a result of the reorganization, OncoMed expects to limit expenses to $90 million this year, down from their initial forecast of $100 million. And the biotech should have enough cash to make it to Q3 2019.

CEO Paul Hastings offered this prepared comment:

With this restructuring, we expect to have greater than two years cash to support operations focused on driving our rosmantuzumab, navicixizumab and anti-TIGIT clinical-stage programs to $98 million in potential development milestone payments while advancing our immuno-oncology discovery-stage portfolio.  We plan to also explore partnering opportunities for our Wnt pathway and immuno-oncology agents to which we have worldwide rights.

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