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Massive layoffs at La Jolla Pharmaceutical

Most of La Jolla Pharmaceutical’s 90 employees will be laid off in the wake of the failure of the company’s lead drug candidate for the treatment of lupus, it was announced Thursday.

The exact number of cuts isn’t yet known, but it will be "...most of the company,’' said Andrew Wiseman, director of investor relations for La Jolla Pharmaceutical.

The company reported that in addition to the layoffs, operating expenses will be cut to preserve cash and remaining assets, while it considers "...winding down the business’’ or a potential sale.

The cuts follow the announcement earlier this month that La Jolla Pharmaceutical’s Riquent drug failed in clinical trials. “We are very disappointed that the Riquent program was not successful,’' Dr. Deirdre Y. Gillespie, president and chief executive officer of La Jolla Pharmaceutical, said in a statement. “Following the receipt of the interim efficacy results, we have undertaken activities to rapidly reduce costs, paring down to the minimum necessary to carry out basic operations and address contractual obligations,’' she said.

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“Unfortunately, Riquent was our sole significant asset. The only other program in our research pipeline targeted SSAO inhibitors, which are at an early preclinical stage and of minimum value.’'