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Warminster biopharma firm shrinks; CEO to depart


A Warminster company that's working on a cure for chronic hepatitis B virus announced this month that it cut almost two dozen jobs. Its president and CEO William Collier is also on his way out.

Arbutus Biopharma Corp., a publicly traded company situated in an industrial complex near the corner of Street and Jacksonville roads, made both announcements Nov. 7. The workforce reduction came to light when it released its third quarter financial results, which included a wider net loss — $20.1 million — than what the company reported during the same quarter of 2022 — $17.6 million.

According to SEC filings, the leadership at Arbutus decided in September to streamline operations by narrowing its focus on its HBV clinical stage compounds. It has one — imdusiran — in Phase 2a trials and another in Phase 1a/1b.

This suggests a pivot from 2022 when its annual report noted that the company increased its headcount to 96 full-time employees, hiring 17 workers last year “to support our expanding pipeline of research programs and product candidates.”

A press release characterized Collier’s departure at the end of 2023 as a retirement both from his position in the company and as a member of its board of directors. His tenure began in June 2019.

“During Bill’s time as CEO, we have achieved many important milestones, including advancing our lead HBV asset, imdusiran, one of the most advanced RNAi therapeutics in development, into multiple Phase 2a combination clinical trials,” said board chairman Frank Torti in a press release thanking Collier for his service.

Chief Operating Officer Michael J. McElhaugh, who co-founded Arbutus in 2014, will serve as interim CEO, effective Jan. 1.

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