A publicly traded drug development company is shifting its headquarters from Birmingham, Ala., to Durham, where it has had offices since 2006.
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals' decision to move its headquarters and realign functions in Alabama and the Triangle, will add 15 workers in Durham, boosting its local work force to 45.
"We're really excited to be expanding in the Triangle," CEO Jon Stonehouse, who lives in Durham, said in a phone interview Wednesday. "It's a great area for talent."
The company will keep a presence in Birmingham as well, but its employee base will decline there.
The company decided to realign the two sites around their core strengths, which ended up dictating that the bulk of the company's management team be located in Durham.
"It just made sense to put the headquarters in Durham as well," Stonehouse said.
None of BioCryst's drugs have been approved for the U.S. market, but its flu treatment peramivir was approved this year in Japan and Korea. Peramivir is in Phase III clinical trials, the final phase required by U.S. regulators before a company can seek approval of a drug.
"We expect to complete trials next year," Stonehouse said. "With positive data, we hope to be on the market in the 2012-2013 flu season."
The company also has two experimental drugs - one for treating gout and another for treating leukemia and lymphoma - in Phase II trials.
Durham's gain is Birmingham's loss. A small number of the 50 workers in Alabama will be offered the chance to move to Durham, and about 10 will be laid off.
The company is also outsourcing its bioanalytics work, previously based in Birmingham, but the half-dozen affected employees have been offered jobs at the company awarded the contract, Stonehouse said.
Overall the company will have 74 employees when the transition is completed, including 29 in Birmingham. Today it has 80 workers.
"We're doing this from a position of strength," Stonehouse said. "We're probably in as strong a position we've been in the four years I've been at the company."
The Birmingham site will focus on discovering drugs. The Durham site will focus on drug development and regulatory issues and, once the company has a drug on the market, commercialization, Stonehouse said.
In the second quarter, BioCryst posted $7.6 million in revenue from its partners. It lost $10.2 million.
The company had $81.2 million in cash as of June 30.
Shares of BioCryst, which trades as BCRX on the Nasdaq, closed Wednesday at $5.29, up 20 cents. Its shares have declined 18 percent this year.
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