Feeling the heat of the bear market, eye disease biotech to implement 'expense streamlining' plan and lay off 50
The company behind an FDA-approved inhalable form of smoking cessation aid Chantix for dry eye disease is falling in line with quite a few other biotechs, and bringing out the budget axe.
Oyster Point Pharma said in a release that it is cutting up to 50 jobs, aiming to save $6-8 million the rest of 2022 and between $40-48 million in 2023 by reducing workforce and other R&D costs. The biotech also noted that its total operating expenses next year are expected to drop below this year’s planned costs.
The cost-cutting measures include an executive shakeup, with the retirement of chief commercial officer John Snisarenko effective Friday and CFO Daniel Lochner now handling CBO duties. Oyster Point has promoted VP of sales and commercial operations Michael Campbell to SVP, head of commercial.
An outfit out of New Jersey, Oyster Point announced the company’s newest development Tuesday as its share price $OYST fell slightly to under $5 a share. That is a far cry from eight months ago, when the biotech opened at $14.95 a share immediately after its FDA approval.
The company’s dry eye disease drug, brand name Tyrvaya in a nasal spray form, is its only approved product so far. CEO Jeffrey Nau said in the release that as of last week, Oyster Point had 7,000 prescribers of the drug.
“Today’s announcement is part of a strategic plan aimed at maximizing the commercial potential of Tyrvaya Nasal Spray and creating value for Oyster Point stakeholders,” Nau said. The CEO further defended the trimming measures, saying, “The plan is designed to prioritize launch expenses for Tyrvaya and its field-based sales resources, streamline corporate operating expenses to drive efficiencies, and strengthen our balance sheet, including seeking non-dilutive sources of capital.”
Oyster Point declined to comment beyond what it had issued in its release.
In the meantime, Oyster Point will be refocusing its R&D efforts on drug candidate OC-01, a nasal spray that is essentially Tyrvaya at twice its dose (0.03 mg of varenicline in Tyrvaya versus 0.06 mg in OC-01). That candidate is being investigated for Stage I neurotrophic keratopathy, an eye degenerative disease, and is in the midst of a Phase II study with a now-planned readout in Q4 this year.
Nau told Endpoints last year after Tyrvaya’s FDA approval that Oyster Point was intending to have a readout from the Phase II study by the end of H1 2022.
Beyond OC-01, the biotech is looking at an AAV gene therapy to target more advanced stages of neurotrophic keratopathy. While that is still in preclinical studies, Oyster Point added that it has requested a pre-IND meeting with the FDA and expects to meet with the agency by year’s end.