Sweden's Orexo is making staff cutbacks and putting its cash behind three drugs that are making good progress through the pipeline.

Anders Lundstrom, chief executive of the Uppsala-headquartered firm, told PharmaTimes World News that around 25 people will be leaving the firm, and ten other posts will not be filled. Orexo has 110 employees, of which 80 work in R&D.

The cuts are expected to lower costs by 30 million Swedish kroner (about $4.4 million) annually and negotiations with trade union representatives have already started. The reduction in personnel is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2012.

The move is deemed necessary as Orexo focuses its activities on three programmes which are reformulated products. The lead project is OX219, an improved version of Reckitt Benckiser's Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) which currently dominates the $1.3 billion opioid addiction market.

Second up is OX51, a sublingual formulation of an existing undisclosed treatment for acute intensive pain episodes. Mr Lundstrom told PharmaTimes World News that there are no really good pain drugs for procedures such as biopsies and OX51 should allow treatment in these procedures to become more efficient and reduce the need for sedating patients. He added that Orexo has been in discussions with the US Food and Drug Administration, "so we know what we need to do" in terms of trial designs.

Further back is OX27, a fast-acting sublingual formulation of an existing treatment designed for episodes of breakthrough pain, which commonly affect cancer patients. Mr Lundstrom noted that it is Orexo's aim to take these three products all the way through to registration and the firm hopes to establish a presence in the USA.

Orexo suffered a setback last month when Johnson & Johnson terminated the firms' anti-inflammatory collaboration.