Massachusetts Biotech OvaScience Slashes 30% of Workforce; CEO and COO Resign

Massachusetts Biotech OvaScience Slashes 30% of Workforce; CEO and COO Resign December 22, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

WALTHAM, Mass. – OvaScience , a fertility-focused bitotech, will undergo a corporate restructuring that is resulting in the termination of 30 percent of its workforce and causing the resignation of the company’s chief executive and chief operations officers.

Following the announcement, shares of OvaScience stock plunged more than 28 percent in aftermarket trading, down from its closing price of $2.97 on Wednesday to $2.05. The decline in share price has plagued OvaScience for much of the past two years. Shares of OvaScience were at a five-year high of $50.18 in January 2015, but have steadily dropped over the past 24 months.

OvaScience has been struggling due to a lack of being able to sell its products in the United States, the Boston Business Journal reported this morning. There has also been a question as to how effective its fertility treatments are due to the “lack of large, definitive trials,” the Journal said.

The workforce reduction will impact about 30 employees, the Boston Business Journal reported, citing company headcount from an August report. In addition to the employees, CEO Harald Stock and COO Paul Chapman resigned their roles. Chapman joined the company in February. Michelle Dipp executive chair and co-founder of OvaScience, will oversee operations while the company conducts a comprehensive search for a new chief executive officer.

Late Wednesday, the company provided its business update regarding plans for Augment, a treatment designed to improve in vitro fertilization. In its announcement, Waltham-based OvaScience said it will continue to make Augment available in Japan and Canada, but planned to reassess clinical studies of the therapy, including an ongoing study in Spain. The company will also slow its plans for a multi-center clinical trial and will provide an update in the near-term, it said. Although OvaScience did not provide specific reasons for its reason to slow the Augment program, it said it is confident in the safety and efficacy of the treatment. The company added that it is scheduled to speak with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017 about bringing the treatment into the United States.

Additionally, OvaScience said it will slow its commercial expansion and undertake a corporate restructuring. The changes will enable the company to extend its cash position through the first quarter of 2019 and allow it to increase its focus on the development of two therapeutic candidates, OvaPrime and OvaTure, the company said in a statement.

OvaPrime is a potential fertility treatment that could enable a woman to increase her egg reserve by repositioning her egg precursor cells within her ovary, where they may mature into fertilizable eggs. The company is currently enrolling patients into a trial in Canada.

OvaTure, is a potential next-generation IVF treatment that could help a woman produce healthy, young, fertilizable eggs without hormone injections by maturing EggPC cells into eggs in vitro, or outside of the body.

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