Slower-than-expected uptake of its Provenge prostate cancer drug forced Seattle biotech company Dendreon to announce 500 job cuts this afternoon, following through on a restructuring plan announced a month ago. The company had employed more than 1,900 people as of the end of June, about 1,200 of them in its manufacturing operations.
Dendron also said its chief operating officer, Hans Bishop, has left the company.
For some time now, Dendreon has been considered one of the great hopes of Seattle’s biotech industry. The approval of Provenge by the FDA last year was heralded as Seattle’s biggest biotech breakthrough. The company has said the main problem is physician confidence about being reimbursed in a timely manner after prescribing the drug, which costs $93,000 per patient treatment.
Dendreon CEO Mitchell Gold expressed optimism on that front today in a news release announcing the cute.
“We believe that the improved reimbursement landscape and our comprehensive plan to educate physicians, coupled with the meaningful clinical benefit that PROVENGE provides to patients, creates a strong market opportunity,” he said. “While the last month has been difficult for our employees, these cost reductions are necessary to ensure the long-term growth of our company, and I am grateful to our dedicated and passionate employees who are the driving force behind Dendreon.”