Nov 7 Bristol-Myers Squibb Co said on
Thursday that it would no longer conduct research to discover
new drugs for hepatitis C, diabetes and neuroscience, but will
increase spending on medicines that harness the immune system to
Company spokeswoman Laura Hortas said the shift in its
research and development focus was "slight" and not geared
toward cost cuts. But she said 70 to 75 R&D positions will be
eliminated, or less than 1 percent of its research workforce.
The company, in an emailed statement, said it will continue
with all ongoing late-stage trials of its medicines, including
treatments for hepatitis C, and with trials exploring new
potential uses of its drugs that are already on the market.
Hortas said early-stage trials of some neuroscience drugs
might be scrapped, although Bristol-Myers will continue with one
such trial involving the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Otherwise, she said ongoing early-stage and mid-stage trials
of its many medicines will continue as planned.
The company said it will continue to conduct discovery
research, meaning the earliest stages of research before drugs
are tested in people, to find new treatments for HIV, hepatitis
B, heart failure, oncology, immunoscience and fibrotic diseases.
"We are focusing our R&D organization on delivering the
opportunities where the value is greatest to patients," Francis
Cuss, Bristol-Myers' chief scientific officer said.
Bristol-Myers is considered a leader in the field of
immuno-oncology, in which drugs are used to unlock the immune
system to go after cancer cells. Its approved Yervoy treatment
for melanoma has provided durable benefits to patients, and the
company aims to eventually pair the drug with other therapies
that also harness the immune system.
Rival drugmakers are also racing to develop immuno-oncology
medicines, which industry analysts expect to garner eventual
combined annual sales of up to $50 billion.