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Theravance to lay off 50 employees as focus shifts to developing drug pipeline

Theravance Biopharma Inc. will lay off about 50 employees in an effort to cut costs and focus on its developmental stage product pipeline.

The biopharmaceutical company said the affected employees are mainly those related to early research or infrastructure support for its medicine Vibativ, an injectable antibiotic the company sold to Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $25 million in November 2018.

The company, which has offices in Dublin and South San Francisco, Calif., expects to record severance-related charges of about $2.5 million to $3 million. The workforce reduction is expected to be substantially completed in the first quarter, and a majority of the cash payments related to the restructuring charges will occur during the same period.

Theravance Chairman and CEO Rick Winningham said in a Jan. 7 statement that while the company is scaling back its activities in early research, it remains committed to drug discovery as a source of long-term growth. The company plans to focus its resources on the commercialization of its drug Yupelri, which was developed with Mylan NV. The therapy was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2018 as a maintenance treatment for a chronic inflammatory lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Also in development is TD-1473, which secured financial backing in February 2018 from the world's biggest pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson. The medicine treats inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

The company is also evaluating a medicine called TD-9855 to treat a rare blood pressure disorder known as neurogenic orthostatic hypotension. The drug showed effectiveness in alleviating symptoms of the disease in a phase 2 trial.