Pacira and Histogen Disclose Layoffs, Optimer Advances Diarrhea Drug, Torrey Path Comes to Town, & More SD BizTech

Xconomy San Diego — 

Between President Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress and California’s jobless data reported Friday, economics dominated the news last week. We saw the effects with a couple of layoffs here in San Diego’s innovation community, along with news about local startups, clinical trials, and new technologies. Read on!

The unemployment rate in California hit 10.1 percent in January, providing a sobering backdrop for the student-managed Disciplines of Engineering Career Fair at UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. UCSD engineering students were sensing the worsening job market before the state jobless data was reported Friday, but a survey of corporate recruiters attending the job fair offered some encouragement. About 40 percent of the corporate recruiters say they plan to hire the same number of full-time engineers in 2009 as they did in 2008.

—Speaking of unemployment, two San Diego life sciences disclosed layoffs last week. Pacira Pharmaceuticals, which markets two approved sustained-release drug delivery products, laid off about 40 employees after a setback in its development of a new product for treating post-surgical pain. The staff reductions represent about 36 percent of Pacira’s workforce.

—Histogen CEO Gail Naughton told me the life sciences startup laid off all 36 of its employees at the end of January after a funding crisis erupted. A group of angel investors withdrew their planned $2.4 million investment in Histogen at the end of January, after learning that a local rival company, Carlsbad, CA-based SkinMedica, had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Histogen.

—San Diego-based Optimer Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: OPTR) reported encouraging results from a second key clinical trial of its antibiotic pruliflxacin, which successfully killed … Next Page »

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