BridgeBio’s chief strategy officer is headed for the exits as the company initiates a second round of layoffs this year to stave off biotech’s persistent bear market.
The layoffs were confirmed in an email from a company spokesperson who suggested that they were a result of “current market conditions.” The spokesperson would not confirm any details on the number of staff laid off or which units were impacted. Chief Strategy Officer Cameron Turtle is also departing the biotech, they said.
The layoffs are the ripple effects of the company’s striking phase 3 fail of its transthyretin amyloidosis med, acoramidis, which found that patients given a placebo reported a smaller decline in their six-minute walking distance over one year than treated patients. The results, announced in December 2021, were a head-scratcher. Nonetheless, Wall Street made sure the disappointment was felt, as BridgeBio’s shares plunged from more than $40 per share before the results were announced to $11.38.
As a result, the company has had to make do with the cards it’s been dealt, which evidently has meant layoffs and farewells. But with sparse details, it’s unclear where the company is trimming and how it plans to charge forward. The spokesperson said the company will provide a “fulsome update” in the coming weeks.
In a corporate presentation earlier this month, BridgeBio remained optimistic that acoramidis would still prove effective at reducing mortality at 30 months, a second primary endpoint in the study. It also tried to lure back investors’ interest by touting its deeper roster of potential meds. In the presentation, the company estimated it would have up to 19 proof-of-concept readouts by 2027 and 22 by 2029.
In the near term, the company is bolstering its other late-stage asset, encaleret, a calcium-sensing receptor antagonist for type 1 autosomal dominant hypocalcemia. In its presentation, BridgeBio anticipated that in the coming months it would have a full readout of its phase 2 trial and would engage regulators. A phase 3 trial is then expected to be launched later this year with interim data in 2023.
Even as it sheds staff and tries to keep up investor morale, the company still sits atop a significant $800 million in cash, with an additional $300 million from milestone payments expected throughout this year. But judging by BridgeBio’s $650 million in total operating costs and expenses last year, it will need to find more cash in the near future.
By Max Bayer
Big Pharma has long seen the potential for AI and machine learning to accelerate drug development. But Novo Nordisk is going a step further by channeling $200 million toward the creation of a computer that will outrun anything in existence.
Current methods for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease rely on a complex combination of self- and caregiver-reported symptoms, a physical examination and either a PET scan or a spinal tap to look for evidence of amyloid plaque build-ups in the brain. But a new artificial intelligence-based method may make the diagnostic process a much more objective one.
There is lots of talk about diversity and inclusion in business, including in pharma and medtech. A new report by the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), a think tank focusing on migration and diversity, released its “Minority Businesses Matter: Europe” report highlighting the successes and challenges of ethnic minority-owned businesses in Europe.