After dismal clinical trial results, Argos Therapeutics executive resigns

A little more than a month after negative clinical trial results led to layoffs at the Durham drug developer Argos Therapeutics, the company’s chief medical officer has resigned.

The departure of Chief Medical Officer Lee Allen was revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 14. Argos said Allen’s departure was voluntary and that “there were no disagreements between Dr. Allen and the company or any officer or director of the company which led to Dr. Allen’s resignation.”

Allen had been with the company since January 2016 — joining Argos after serving as chief medical officer of the Nevada-based pharmaceutical company Spectrum Pharmaceuticals.

The departure is one of a series of setbacks the company has seen in the past several months, after its flagship kidney cancer drug received negative results in phase 3 trials earlier this year.

In February, an independent data monitoring committee recommended the company discontinue clinical trials for the kidney cancer drug, rocapuldencel-T, which caused the company’s stock price to plunge 65 percent in one day.

Previously the company said it was progressing in its efforts to commercialize the cancer drug, even leasing space at North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus to aid those efforts. But the negative trial news led the company to begin make efforts to preserve its cash resources.

In March, the company reduced its workforce by 38 percent, from 122 employees to 76, and its Centennial Campus landlord terminated its lease.

Argos posted a net loss of $53 million in 2016 on revenue of more than $945,000. In 2015, the company reported a loss of $74.8 million on more than $518,000 in revenue.

In its recent annual report, Argos said it currently does not have sufficient cash resources to continue business operations beyond April 2017 and is seeking to raise additional capital. The company also stated that it could seek to sell the company, sell its assets or instead “determine to dissolve and liquidate our assets or seek protection under the bankruptcy laws.”

Shares of the company have fallen more than 90 percent since the beginning of the year, trading at 36 cents per share on Monday morning.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes