Aslan cuts costs by 50% to compensate for failed drug trial

Asia’s pharma company has announced a restructure to cuts costs and refocus on remaining clinical programmes

Aslan Pharmaceuticals has announced a strategic corporate restructuring to reduce its spending and focus its resources on remaining clinical programmes. This restructuring comes as a result of the company’s drug, Varlitinib for metastatic gastric cancer, failing mid-phase clinical trials.

Following the review the clinical-stage oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company will lower running costs by 50%, expecting no material restructuring costs.

The business shake-up includes a 30% reduction in employees. Staffing will see a further restructuring as Dr Bertil Lindmark retires as CMO, taken over by Dr Chih-Yi Hsieh. Dr Mark McHale will also move from COO to Chief Development Officer and Head of R&D.

One of the projects Aslan has said it is giving attention is the failed drug but used as a first-line treatment for biliary tract cancer (BTC) instead. Aslan recently reported positive phase 1b results from this ongoing study.

A global study of Varlitinib in second-line BTC has also been completed ahead of schedule in December 2018. The TreeTopp (TREatmEnT OPPortunity) study was completed and data is expected in the second half of 2019. If positive, this data will be used to submit a New Drug Application (NDA) in China, the US and other major locations.

Commenting on the restructure, Dr Carl Firth, CEO of Aslan, said: “We are approaching several significant milestones in 2019 and beyond, so it is important we complete key studies over the next two years. Restructuring the organisation has involved some tough decisions. It is difficult to lose outstanding members of the team who have contributed to ASLAN over the years and have tackled some of the most challenging obstacles to advancing new treatments for cancer.”

The other two products to be focused on in the restructure are ASLAN003 in acute myeloid leukaemia and ASLAN004 in atopic dermatitis.

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