November 20, 2018

Melinta lays off 22 of 25 New Haven employees

Photo Contributed
Photo Contributed
Melinta Therapeutics is headquartered at 300 George St. in New Haven.

Citing tough times in the antibiotics industry, Melinta Therapeutics is laying off nearly all employees at its flagship New Haven office as it carries out a cost-cutting plan aimed at saving $50 million next year.

Melinta officials confirmed Tuesday morning that it would pink-slip 22 of the 25 employees working at its 300 George St. facility, most of them in research.

"In the face of an extremely challenging time for the antibiotics industry, Melinta has made the difficult decision to significantly reduce our investment in discovery research and are currently looking for strategic partners to take on these activities, located at our New Haven facility," Melinta said in an emailed statement to New Haven Biz.

Employees at the New Haven facility were told the office was closing and their last day was Nov. 30, according to sources. However, a spokeswoman for the company would not confirm that date and said no final plans to shutter the New Haven location had been made.

Spokeswoman Lisa DeFrancesco said jobs were also impacted at the company's North Carolina, New Jersey and Illinois offices across all areas of the organization — including research, development, commercial, finance and IT. She declined to provide specific numbers.

The news comes following a disappointing third-quarter earnings report this month showing higher costs and lower-than-expected sales for its antibiotics to treat serious skin infections and other infectious diseases.

Melinta told investors at the time it was taking "deliberate and decisive steps to accelerate sales, lower costs and optimize cash" and cited several positive milestones, including a marketing deal worth up to $265 million with Italian firm Menarini Group to commercialize three of its drugs worldwide.

The layoffs cap a year of transformation for the antibiotics maker, which was born in New Haven in 2000 as Rib-X Pharmaceuticals and was renamed Melinta in 2013.

Late last year, the company merged with North Carolina antibiotics maker Cempra Inc. and began trading on the NASDAQ exchange.

In January, it launched its first commercial drug, Baxdela, which fights drug-resistant skin infections, and acquired the infectious disease arm of New Jersey-based the Medicines Co., along with its three commercial antibiotics Vabomere, Orbactiv and Minocin.

Last month, the company tapped one of its directors, John H. Johnson, as interim CEO after CEO Dan Wechsler decided to step down after less than a year on the job.

In addition to its commercial drugs, Melinta has also been developing new treatments for acne and a new class of antibiotics to combat so-called superbugs.

In its emailed statement, the company said it continues to "believe strongly in the need for new antibiotics."

"We will look to source our innovation externally going forward and focus on excellence in development and commercialization as we work to become a strong, cash-flow positive company in a difficult external environment," the company said.

Contact Natalie Missakian at news@newhavenbiz.com

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