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Chelsea Therapeutics Cutting Jobs, CEO Leaves

From Associated Press (July 10, 2012)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Chelsea Therapeutics' CEO and other key executives have resigned, and the drug developer plans large job cuts and a reorganization as it works to recover from a setback to its lead drug candidate Northera.

The Charlotte, N.C., company said Tuesday that founder and CEO Simon Pedder has resigned, effective immediately, and Kevan Clemens will be replaced by Dr. Michael Weiser as board chairman but will remain a director. Operations Vice President Joseph G. Oliveto will serve as interim CEO.

Board members Norman Hardman and Johnson Y.N. Lau also resigned, as did Keith Schmidt, a marketing and sales executive.

Chelsea Therapeutics International Ltd. also said it planned to cut at least $3.5 million in annual salary costs and will keep only the employees it needs to obtain marketing approval of Northera. The drug candidate aims to treat neurogenic orthostatic hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure on standing, a common symptom in Parkinson's disease.

The company expects to complete the job cuts, which it said will "significantly reduce" its workforce, in the third quarter.

Weiser said in a statement that Chelsea plans to explore "all available strategic options to determine the best path forward" in the long-term interest of the company and its shareholders.

The Food and Drug Administration has recommended another trial for Northera, saying an ongoing study is unlikely to provide enough evidence to support an application for the drug's approval.

The company said Tuesday it will stop patient enrollment in its ongoing study and will evaluate additional studies needed for marketing approval.

Northera is Chelsea Therapeutics' most advanced drug candidate. The company has no drugs approved for sale.

Chelsea also said in May it was ending studies of a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and it planned to focus resources on Northera.

Shares of Chelsea, which have lost three-quarters of their value this year, added a penny to $1.25 Tuesday in premarket trading.


Posted: July 2012