Idenix Pharma to Cut Tyzeka, Jobs

The company will discontinue its hepatitis B treatment program and instead focus on HCV and HIV.
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Idenix Pharmaceuticals

(IDIX)

is restructuring to focus on hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV programs, a move that involves discontinuing all activities for hepatitis B treatment Tyzeka and cutting a third of its workforce. The plan, announced just before the market open Friday, will result in estimated annual savings of $40 million to $45 million.

The company amended its agreement with

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

regarding HBV treatment Tyzeka and now has no development, manufacturing or commercial activities for the drug, but will receive a royalty on worldwide sales. Subsequent to the discontinuation of its role in Tyzeka, Idenix is laying off around 100 positions, or roughly a third of the company.

Idenix expects to incur between $5 million and $10 million in charges, mostly associated with one-time employee severance benefits and the write-off of certain assets.

"We believe that we are now well-positioned to fund the advancement of our HIV and HCV discovery and development programs through 2009," said CFO Ronald Renaud on Friday.

The company has a candidate for the treatment of HIV-1 in phase I/II clinical testing and an HCV discovery effort including preclinical testing of its IDX102 and IDX184.

Idenix shares were 13 cents, or 4.3% lower, at $2.90 in early trading Friday.