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Inspire drops cystic fibrosis programme

Inspire Pharmaceuticals has announced that it is dropping its pulmonary therapeutic drug development programme, cutting 65 jobs, to focus on eye-care

Inspire Pharmaceuticals has announced that it is dropping its pulmonary therapeutic drug development programme, cutting 65 jobs, and restructuring to focus on its eye-care business.

The restructuring comes on the heels of disappointing late-stage study results for the company's experimental cystic fibrosis treatment denufosol. Last month, Inspire disclosed that a phase III trial of the drug had failed to achieve statistical significance for its primary efficacy endpoint.

The restructuring will cut about 65 positions, representing 27 per cent of the company's total headcount and 45 per cent of its of non-sales force headcount. The job losses will primarily come from research and development; manufacturing and technical operations; and general and administrative, with no positions to be cut from Inspire's speciality eye-care sales force.

Inspire said it expects the restructuring to help the company obtain profitability by significantly reducing its cost base and cash burn. The restructuring is expected to produce a $40m reduction in 2011 non-cost of sales operating expenses, made up of approximately $10m in compensation expense savings and $30m in R&D savings. The figures do not take into account a restructuring charge of $10-$13m that Inspire expects to record in the first quarter of 2011.

Along with the announcement of the restructuring, the company released its fourth-quarter and full-year results. The quarterly net loss grew to $4.3m, or 5 cents a share, from $2.6m, or 3 cents per share, in the same quarter last year, beating analysts' estimate of 12 cents a share. For the year, net loss narrowed to $35.4m, or 43 cents a share, from $40m, or 60 cents a share. Analysts had expected a loss of 50 cents a share.

Fourth-quarter revenue was up two percent to $30.3m, compared to $29.6m in the year-ago period. Revenue for the full year was $106.4m, up from $92.2m in 2010.

Inspire's eye-care business includes the bacterial conjunctivitis treatment Azasite (azithromycin) and the allergic conjunctivitis drug Elestat, which it copromotes with Allergan. The company also earns royalties based on net sales of the dry eye therapy Restasis (cyclosporine), which is marketed by Allergan and expects to begin receiving royalties in 2011 based on net sales of Diquas (diquafosol) for dry eye, which is marketed in Japan by Santen but has not been approved in the US.

18th February 2011

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