Japanese biopharmaceutical company Sosei has announced a series of drastic measures designed to help the group survive, including the closure of a unit in the UK.

The Tokyo-based group said that the measures are a necessary result of current market conditions and the difficulty in raising its low share price. Sosei’s stock have suffered since the end of March when the firm said it had suspended further patient recruitment into a Phase III clinical trial programme for its fentanyl sublingual spray, known as AD 923, in cancer breakthrough pain, due to technical problems.

These factors have forced Sosei to take “decisive action to cut costs, streamline its operation and to secure the future of the business” until it starts generating significant income “in a few years’ time” from the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drugs NVA237 and QVA149, partnered with Novartis.

Specifically, Sosei is closing its Chesterford operation in Cambridge, UK and while the company R&D's continuing business will relocate to London in due course, headcount in the UK will be reduced by 40, leading to a saving of around $4 million.

Sosei added that it will “no longer operate a drug discovery unit” and although it intends to keep the rights to NVA237 and QVA149, it will seek to out-license or sell all other assets generated in the UK, including AD923, whilst seeking to retain some rights for the Asian market.

The firm said that the restructuring will provide it with at least two years’ cash, “including a budget allocation to explore some late-stage product opportunities for future expansion”.

The restructuring announcement came as Sosei said that sales for the fiscal year ended March 31 slipped 4.1% to 739 million yen ($7.0 million), while net loss grew 4.2% to 6.50 billion yen.