Medicago to let go of 62 employees

Nov. 2, 2022

Canadian plant-based drugmaker Medicago announced this week that it would be letting go of 62 employees at its Durham, North Carolina facility.

The layoffs will become effective by mid-December, and will specifically impact 60 on-site workers and two remote workers. In the WARN notice, the company said the organizational changes are being implemented to “restructure the workforce to align with its changing business needs.” 

In a statement to the Triangle Business Journal, Medicago’s CEO Toshifumi Tada said that "As the pandemic has evolved, the epidemiological situation and availability of bivalent vaccines has demonstrated the need for Medicago to review its initial plan and its global strategy regarding Covifenz.” 

Covifenz is Medicago's plant-based COVID vaccine and has only been approved by Canadian regulators. The vaccine uses GSK's pandemic adjuvant and Medicago's proprietary drug substance, made of self-assembling virus-like particles (VLPs). 

Some publications have reported that Medicago's affiliation with tobacco maker Philip Morris — who owns 25% of the company — could jeopardize approval odds. In 2005, the WHO established a treaty "requiring no involvement with any company that produces or promotes tobacco-based products."