- Rare disease drugmaker Retrophin plans to close down its Massachusetts office as part of a larger effort to centralize operations in San Diego, where the company is headquartered.
- "This action is being taken as part of a strategic effort to centralize expertise and improve efficiency, with the goal of expediting the development of the company’s late-stage clinical and early stage research programs," Retrophin reported in an 8-K form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.
- Retrophin supported about 135 employees as of Dec. 31, according to its most recent 10-K filing to the SEC. Approximately 30 of those workers are located in the Cambridge, Mass., office, a spokesperson for the company wrote via email.
Retrophin plans to bring at least some of the Cambridge office staff to the San Diego headquarters, as well as hire new employees for "other functions," according to the 8-K filing. Those actions will take place over the course of 2017. The spokesperson did not breakdown how many workers would transition between the two coastal offices, or what departments will be most affected by the restructuring.
The company predicted the move could cost as much as $4.5 million dollars.
Operational costs in 2016 totaled $191.8 million, a 27% increase from the year prior, according to the 10-K filing. Operational losses jumped too, up almost 15% to $58 million. Meanwhile, cash and cash equivalents clocked in at $41 million.
Retrophin gained notoriety through founder Martin Shkreli, who is infamous for raising the price of a generic AIDS drug at another biotech he was at the helm of, Turing Pharmaceuticals. Retrophin has since ousted the shady figure, and has even filed suit against Shkreli for allegedly using company funds to pay off former business associates.
Retrophin's pipeline includes two candidates, sparsentan and RE-024, that have wrapped up Phase 2 testing, a pre-clinical drug, RE-034, under investigation for multiple indications, and another pre-clinical program targeting patients with deficient levels of an enzyme called N-glycanase 1. It also includes a liquid formulation of ursodeoxycholic acid acquired from Asklepion Pharmaceuticals in June 2016 for $500,000 upfront.
Sparsentan is a treatment for patients with an uncommon liver illness called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). The illness stems from the immune system attacking parts of the liver responsible for filtering the blood, which in turn can lead to scarring of the organ. More than 5,400 diagnoses of the disease arise annually, according to Nephcure Kidney International, a nonprofit.
Currently, the main forms of treatment for FSGS are immunosuppresants, ACE inhibitors and diuretics. A Phase 3 trial for sparsentan that will serve as the basis for a New Drug Application is slated for the second half of this year.