Merrimack to reduce workforce by 60 percent as ends development of cancer drug MM-121

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals announced plans to initiate a corporate restructuring that will see the drugmaker reduce expenses and slash its workforce by approximately 60 percent. The company noted that the restructuring, which will see all studies of the experimental cancer drug MM-121 discontinued, will begin immediately and end in February 2019. 

CEO Richard Peters remarked "following a comprehensive review of our drug candidate pipeline, we have determined that a corporate restructuring provides the best path forward to reduce operational costs and maximise value." Merrimack said that the restructuring could potentially allow it to fund operations at least until the second half of 2022. 

 "Going forward, we remain committed to the efficient development of targeted therapies for biomarker-defined cancers, as we are now focused on our clinical development programme for MM-310, for which we anticipate providing another safety update in Q1 2019, and our emerging preclinical candidates, MM-401 and MM-201," Peters stated.  

The news comes after Merrimack announced last month that it was terminating the mid-stage SHERLOC study, which assessed MM-121 plus docetaxel in patients with heregulin-positive non-small-cell lung cancer. At the time, the drugmaker indicated that it was to look closely at the data as it was continuing the Phase II SHERBOC study comparing MM-121, also known as seribantumab, in combination with AstraZeneca's Faslodex (fulvestrant) to Faslodex alone in certain patients with metastatic breast cancer. 

The news additionally follows the drugmaker's decision to terminate development of istiratumab, also named MM-141, for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer after the failure of a mid-stage study. (For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Merrimack becoming cautionary tale for aggressive drug developers)

Further, Merrimack also said Thursday that "in parallel, it has retained external advisors to explore strategic alternatives".



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