Drug Maker Phenomix Lays Off 16 Employees

4/27/09

Phenomix, the privately held San Diego biotech that Luke profiled in February, has laid off 16 employees, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

I contacted Phenomix after Xconomy received a tip concerning possible layoffs, and was referred by the company to Pam Lord of the San Diego office of Porter Novelli Life Sciences, who confirmed 16 layoffs, about one-third less than its 50 employees in February. Phenomix has been developing an experimental drug for treating diabetes, and Lord said the layoffs predominantly affected people who were working in Phenomix’ drug discovery programs. But Lord said that while Phenomix trimmed its chemistry team, the biotech also has hired some employees with expertise in clinical trials. So the company’s workforce is now 40 employees, which is closer to a 20 percent reduction over the past 3 months. An update of layoffs among San Diego’s technology companies is available here.

CEO Laura Shawver told Luke Phenomix secured the funding it needed to move its diabetes drug forward through a partnership with Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX). Under an agreement announced in October, Phenomix could get as much as $340 million to jointly develop its Type 2 diabetes drug, dutogliptin. Just before that Phenomix had cancelled its $86.25 million IPO.

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