Targanta cuts jobs following FDA rejection

Targanta Therapeutics has decided to pull out the axe following the FDA's rejection of oritavancin, the company's experimental antibiotic for complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI). The company announced it will cut its work force down by 75 percent, leaving it with only 27 employees.

Among those heading out the door are Chief Development Officer Pierre Etienne, Chief Commercial Officer Mona Haynes, and VP of Operations Roger Miller. According to Targanta's statement, this is all scheduled to happen before the end of the month. "This is disappointing to us. It's a wonderful team that brought us almost to the finish line and we will be working to help them find new opportunities," CEO Mark Leuchtenberger explained to the Boston Business Journal.

Targanta will take a $5.8 million hit to restructure, but the company seems to be trying to heed the FDA's advice that it needs to conduct another study and enroll more patients with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as well as actively monitor macrophage function and phlebitis rates. "We are no longer a pre-commercial company," Leuchtenger said. "We are back to being a Phase three company, and that requires us to right-size and to streamline our operations."

Leuchtenger tells the Boston Biz that he expects the new trial to cost at least $20 million and two years to complete, but the company is actively seeking new funding opportunities, including a potential partnership with a large biotech or pharma company. And despite the setback in the U.S., Targanta is optimistic that the drug will gain EMEA approval in 2009, where is it already under review.

- check out Targanta's release
- read more in the Boston Business Journal