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Idenix Will Focus on HIV & HCV Pipeline
  Idenix to eliminate 100 jobs, halt efforts on hepatitis B drug
By Todd Wallack, Boston Globe Staff
September 29, 2007
From Jules: you may recall Doug Mayers left BI to go to Idenix last year.
Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. said yesterday it will narrow its focus and eliminate 100 jobs, one-third of the Cambridge biotech's workforce, including 33 to 50 employees in Massachusetts.
Idenix also said it plans to halt all work on the hepatitis B drug Tyzeka, which it jointly markets with Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, and instead concentrate all of its resources on hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS treatments, which are in the early stages of development. The company said that even after Novartis takes over full responsibility for developing and marketing Tyzeka, it will continue to earn some royalties from the drug, which is sold as Sebivo in Europe. Novartis owns 56 percent of Idenix.
Idenix said it will incur $5 million to $10 million in charges related to the job cuts, but expects to eventually save $40 million to $45 million a year. Prior to the job cuts, which were effective yesterday, about 184 of its 300 employees worked in Massachusetts. It also has offices in France and Italy.
The company's stock fell 14 cents, or 4.6 percent, yesterday to $2.89 and is down 67 percent since the beginning of the year.
Prior to yesterday's news, Idenix had faced other setbacks. In July, the Food and Drug Administration stopped clinical trials of the company's experimental hepatitis C drug because the agency found the benefits didn't appear to outweigh the risks.
"These decisions will enable us to concentrate on what we believe is most critical to our future success - building and advancing our pipeline," Idenix chief executive Jean-Pierre Sommadossi said in a statement.
The company, which has $100 million to $110 million in cash and investments, said it believes it is "now well-positioned" to continue funding its hepatitis C and AIDS research through 2009. If the programs show promise, Idenix could potentially raise additional capital or partner with a larger pharmaceuticals company.
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