With its blockbuster dreams dashed, Deciphera plans to slash workforce by 35%

Dec. 1, 2021

Massachusetts-based Deciphera Pharmaceuticals announced a restructuring plan this week that involves a major cut to its staff. 

According to a press release, the new business strategy for the company, which specializes in cancer treatments, will involve a workforce reduction of 35%, or 140 positions. The cuts will impact a range of employees — from R&D staff to general administrative employees.

The restructuring comes just weeks after the company’s sole commercialized drug, Qinlock, failed a phase 3 trial pitting it against sunitinib, the standard of care for patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Positive results from the trial could have led to an indication extension for the drug that analysts predicted would push it over the billion-dollar threshold for sales. Instead, its current fourth-line treatment approval is estimated to only bring in about $81 million in peak sales. The company said it is now discontinuing further development of the Qinlock. 

Deciphera is also halting the development of rebastinib, a drug designed to target ovarian cancer. Deciphera did not elaborate on why it is canning rebastinib — the drug was slated to enter late-stage trials for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer next year and had showed promise when combined with paclitaxel in phase 2 trials.

Instead, Deciphera will heighten it focus on the clinical development of other candidates such as vimseltinib, a kinase inhibitor of CSF1R developed to treat tenosynovial giant cell tumor, which is headed into phase 3 trials this year. The company will also prioritize the development of a phase 1 candidate called DCC-3116, which is being investigated to inhibit autophagy for the treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic tumors with specific genetic mutations.

"The decision to realign our resources and restructure our organization was difficult, but one which will allow us to focus on the critical programs that will drive our future growth. I would like to personally express my appreciation to our colleagues who are impacted by this decision. We are immensely grateful for their dedication and their contributions to advancing our mission," Steve Hoerter, president and CEO of Deciphera, said in a statement.