Sophiris Bio Slashes Workforce in Half as Firm Explores Strategic Options

Published: May 25, 2016

Sophiris Bio Slashes Workforce in Half as Firm Explores Strategic Options May 25, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

SAN DIEGO – Although having successfully completed a Phase III trial assessing its urological disease treatment drug, topsalysin (PRX302), San Diego-based Sophiris has slashed half its workforce in an effort to reduce operating expenses before moving forward with a second Phase III trial.

Sophiris said the late-stage trial using topsalysin for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as enlarged prostate, met its primary endpoints, but in order to advance it through regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company will have to conduct another Phase III trial with a larger cohort—something that will require additional funding.

“We will need to obtain additional capital to fund a second Phase III clinical trial of topsalysin for the treatment of the symptoms of BPH and for any future clinical development of topsalysin for the treatment of localized prostate cancer and to fund our ongoing operations,” the company said in a March statement.

Sophiris has taken several steps to streamline its operations, including the hiring of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. as its financial adviser, as well as the raising of about $5 million in additional capital through the sale of some common stock shares. The company also announced in March that as of this month (May) it was terminating five of its 10 employees, which the company estimated a cost of about $900,000 in severance and other charges.

In March, the company reported it had 8.4 million in cash, cash equivalents and securities with a net working capital of $5.6 million—which the company at the time said should be enough to finance operations for the next 12 months. But also tucked into the company’s quarterly report was the statement that Sophiris was actively looking for potential partnerships for the development of topsalysin.

In addition to the Phase III trial, Sophiris is anticipating data from a Phase IIa trial using topsalysin in the treatment of prostate cancer later this year. If the data is strong, that would mean the young company would have a drug that could potentially treat two separate disease areas, something that would surely increase the company’s value.

“The fact that we’re talking about one drug with two indications means that we get two shots on goal,” Randall Woods, chief executive officer of Sophiris told XConomy in an interview.

While Sophiris looks to begin additional trials to advance topsalysin through additional trials, the company could benefit from a bidding war for Bay Area-based Medivation , which has several suitors, including Sanofi , which has launched something of a hostile takeover. Medivation is the maker of the prostate cancer drug enzalutamide (Xtandi), which could drive up the value of Sophiris, Woods said to XConomy.

However, Sophiris said it will play its cards close to its vest during this strategic operation and not publicly share any information until the company’s board of directors directs it to.

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