Nabriva halts R&D, lays off 40% of staff in commercial-focused pivot for survival

Nabriva halts R&D, lays off 40% of staff in commercial-focused pivot for survival

Irish biotech Nabriva Therapeutics has responded to the tough financial climate by putting all its chips on the approved bacterial skin medicine Sivextro, meaning its R&D projects and 40% of staff are now surplus to requirements.

“Given the pressures of the macro environment, we believe building on our commercial success with Sivextro, as demonstrated by the continued prescription demand growth, is the most efficient and effective way to extend our cash runway and preserve optionality and value for our shareholders,” CEO Ted Schroeder said in a third-quarter earnings release.

The infections-focused company has brought in Torreya Capital to “help us explore strategic options,” said Schroeder, which could include the in-licensing or out-licensing of the company’s commercial-stage assets.

Nabriva had $14.8 million in cash and equivalents as of the end of September. Despite the plans to suspend its early-stage R&D projects and let go around 4 in 10 of its global workforce, the company still expects its cash to run out in the first quarter of 2023.

The company secured the U.S. rights to Sivextro from Merck & Co. in 2020. The oxazolidinone-class antibacterial is indicated in adults and children aged 12 years and older for the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections caused by certain Gram-positive microorganisms.

Nabriva’s other approved therapy is a systemic pleuromutilin antibiotic called Xenleta, which is available as an injection or tablets to treat bacterial pneumonia. The company was also developing Contepo as a potential first-in-class epoxide antibiotic for complicated urinary tract infections, but a second shot at approval has remained in limbo since the FDA struggled to conduct manufacturing site inspections at the height of the pandemic.

Nabriva’s finances have been tricky for a while. In September, the Dublin-based company announced a 1-for-25 reverse stock split needed to regain compliance with the minimum $1-per-share requirement to continue listing on the Nasdaq.

The company’s net loss for the third quarter rose was $11.5 million, compared to $10.7 million for the same period the previous year. R&D expenses were $4 million, an uptick on $3.2 million for the same period in 2021. Nabriva attributed this rise to a $500,000 increase in consulting fees as well as costs related to a phase 1 trial of Xenleta for the treatment of resistant bacterial infections in adult patients with cystic fibrosis.

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