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Dynavax to eliminate 37% of workforce, focus on hepatitis B vaccine

Dynavax Technologies Corp. will lay off about 37% of its U.S. workforce as part of an organizational restructuring to focus on the commercialization of its hepatitis B vaccine Heplisav-B.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based biotechnology company is eliminating roughly 82 positions related to research and clinical development of immuno-oncology programs and general and administrative functions. Dynavax also plans to explore strategic alternatives for its immuno-oncology portfolio as part of the restructuring.

The company expects the restructuring costs, which include compensation and benefits expenses as well as severance payments, to be about $5.5 million. These estimates do not include stock compensation and additional restructuring expenses related to the retirement of fixed assets and facility-related costs.

Dynavax said after reducing the workforce its annual compensation and benefits cost will be down by about $16 million. The company added that after completing its current cancer trials and commitments, its quarterly operational costs related to cancer will decrease by nearly $8 million compared to the first quarter of the year.

Eddie Gray, CEO of Dynavax, will retire on Aug. 1 and the company's board will conduct a search for the next CEO.

The company's board has created an interim office of the president and appointed David Novack, senior vice president of operations, and Ryan Spencer, senior vice president of commercial, as co-presidents.

Dynavax's Heplisav-B vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2017. The European Medicines Agency accepted the company's marketing authorization application for the vaccine in March.