With J&J deal undone, Orexo revamps drug delivery tech development

Sweden's Orexo will slash jobs and focus on three development programs that rely on enhancing already-approved treatments with its proprietary drug delivery tech, the company disclosed.

The announcement comes a month after Orexo revealed that it would be mutually ending a three-year, $585 million development pact with Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) drug arm--Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Janssen Pharmaceutica. Their partnership focused on developing treatments in areas including asthma, COPD and other inflammatory conditions.

Orexo, which focuses on treating inflammation, pain and respiratory diseases, didn't offer many more details. New CEO Anders Lundström said in a statement, however, that Orexo's decision allows it to focus on developing and commercializing its own products, and to direct "all of our resources toward our key later stage development programs." Orexo claims ownership of a number of drug delivery technologies, according to its website, including a sublingual mucoadhesive tablet that disintegrates under the tongue. Also under development or already in use: an oral, fast-dissolving tablet, a liposomal nasal spray, a better tasting solid syrup, and Pandermal, a technology that enables transdermal drug delivery.

Orexo employs about 110 people, with 80 of that number based in research and development. Executives will slash up to 35 full-time positions and conclude their restructuring by the second quarter, the company said, with changes fully felt in 2013. In all, Orexo will reduce its expenses by about $4.4 million U.S.

Orexo has inked research, development and licensing deals with a number of big pharma companies including Novartis ($NVS) and Boehringer Ingelheim, according to the company's website. It may be best known for Abstral, a cancer pain treatment delivered, in part, through a sublingual tablet.

- here's the release

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