ImmunityBio cuts 50 jobs in California and Florida after FDA snubs its bladder cancer drug

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Following an FDA rejection earlier this year, ImmunityBio has initiated its second round of layoffs in less than a year, affecting approximately 50 employees across its California and Florida locations. The layoffs, as reported in a September 19 California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) report, involve 48 job cuts, primarily impacting employees based in El Segundo, California, which is one of the company’s seven facilities.

The layoffs also extend to remote workers connected to the El Segundo office, as confirmed in an ImmunityBio letter filed in Florida. The Florida letter provides detailed information on each of the 50 job terminations, including one in Florida, although it remains uncertain whether 48 or 50 employees in total were affected. These layoffs span across 16 departments and multiple office locations, according to an ImmunityBio spokesperson.

The primary reason behind these job cuts is to streamline operations and reduce costs, and the company expects the Florida layoffs to conclude by October 17.

This recent wave of layoffs marks the second time ImmunityBio has taken such action in less than a year. In October of the previous year, the company reversed its hiring plans for its New York facility, initially committing to hire 300 employees but ultimately announcing the termination of 38 workers by year-end.

The latest round of layoffs follows an FDA rejection in the spring of this year. In May, the FDA issued a complete response letter regarding ImmunityBio’s bladder cancer candidate, a combination of Anktiva and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a vaccine primarily used against tuberculosis. The treatment is intended for patients with BCG-unresponsive, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer. The FDA cited deficiencies related to its pre-license inspection of third-party contract manufacturing organisations in its response.

ImmunityBio expressed its commitment to addressing and resolving the identified issues promptly to seek FDA approval.

Recently, the biotech secured a $200 million convertible debt note from Nant Capital, an entity affiliated with Patrick Soon-Shiong, ImmunityBio’s founder, executive chair, and global chief scientific and medical officer. This financing, coupled with a one-year extension of the nearest-term debt payments, positions ImmunityBio favourably to support its business operations and pre-commercialization efforts as it pursues potential regulatory approval for its bladder cancer candidate.

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