Alexza Pharmaceuticals has retained the services of advisors at Lazard to explore strategic options, including a possible sale.

The California-based group said it is looking at "the disposition of one or more corporate assets, a strategic business combination, partnership or other transactions". It added that it has provided to all of its employees a 60-day notice of layoffs and it intends to "significantly reduce its work force" as it seeks approvals for its antipsychotic Adasuve, (inhaled loxapine).

Last week, the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the US Food and Drug Administration voted 17-1 that the inhaled formulation of loxapine, which has been available for over 35 years, is effective for the acute treatment of agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in adults.

However, the panel was split (9-8 with one abstention) but did recommend that Adasuve be approved in conjunction with an FDA-recommended risk evaluation and mitigation strategy. The agency is expected to make its final decision by February 4 and it is currently under review in Europe.