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NeuroSearch Fires Workers to Cut Costs, Advance Drug

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Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- NeuroSearch A/S, the maker of an experimental Huntington’s disease treatment, said it will fire about 20 percent of its employees and take other measures to cut annual costs by about 100 million kroner ($17 million) by 2012.

The company is making several changes to executive management, including a new chief financial officer, and will establish a new drug discovery unit this month, Patrik Dahlen, who became chief executive officer in August, also said in a statement today.

The changes are meant to concentrate resources behind the Huntington’s drug Huntexil, speeding its path to the market, Dahlen said. NeuroSearch, based in Ballerup, Denmark, on Dec. 30 said it expected to discuss gaining marketing approval for the medicine with U.S. and European regulatory authorities by July. Frank H. Andersen, an analyst with Silkeborg, Denmark-based Jyske Bank A/S, said in February he expected the drug to reach the market this year.

NeuroSearch, which has no products on the market, in February gained the most on record after reporting positive trial results from the medicine. The shares then fell 30 percent April 28 after the company said further analysis showed Huntexil failed to meet the primary goal of improving motor function, though it improved overall functioning in a trial.

NeuroSearch rose 0.5 krone, or 0.5 percent, to 95 kroner at 4:08 p.m. and has risen 11 percent in the last 12 months. That compares with a 7.1 percent gain in the Bloomberg Europe Pharmaceutical Index.

New CEO

Former CEO Flemming Pedersen resigned in May to become chief financial officer at allergy treatment maker ALK-Abello A/S. In June, the stock exchange reprimanded NeuroSearch for inadequately informing investors.

NeuroSearch on Aug. 24 appointed Dahlen, formerly president of the life sciences division of Wellesley, Massachusetts-based medical equipment maker PerkinElmer Inc. and chief executive officer of cancer diagnostics company Dako Denmark A/S.

Huntexil is NeuroSearch’s most advanced treatment in development, and other companies have expressed interest in the medicine, the drugmaker said last year.

A genetic illness that causes brain cells to waste away, Huntington’s disease affects as many as seven people out of 100,000 in Western countries, according to the World Health Organization. Huntington’s is incurable, and virtually no treatments exist to address symptoms, which include loss of ability to walk, talk and think.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Frances Schwartzkopff at fschwartzko1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net

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