La Jolla Pharmaceutical Looks at Sale or “Winding Down”

2/20/09Follow @bvbigelow

There are not many options remaining for La Jolla Pharmaceutical, (NASDAQ: LJPC) which last week reported the failure of its Riquent drug candidate for treating lupus.

In a brief statement, CEO Deirdre Gillespie said Riquent was the San Diego biotech’s sole significant asset. The company says it is taking steps to reduce costs, “including a substantial reduction in personnel.”

La Jolla provided no details about the extent of the job cuts, but it reported having 86 full-time employees a year ago, according to its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for clarification about the cuts this morning.

The company had $26 million in cash left at the end of September, and received $15 million last month through a partnership with Novato, CA-based BioMarin Pharmaceuticals. It is now evaluating strategic options to maximize the value of its assets, “such as winding down the business or the sale of the Company,” according to the statement.

La Jolla’s stock collapsed on Feb. 12, falling more than 90 percent after the Riquent failure. The stock traded this morning at 9 cents.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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