Chapel Hill antibiotics maker Cempra posted a wider third-quarter loss Thursday as the company boosts hiring and intensifies preparations for a pneumonia drug that could receive federal approval later this year.
Cempra posted a third-quarter net loss of $32.3 million, compared to $27.6 million a year ago. While R&D expenses declined 10.2 percent to $21.1 million, commercial readiness activities surged from $5.8 million a year ago to $15 million in the third quarter ending Sept. 30 this year.
The company has $248.9 million in cash and equivalents in the third quarter, sufficient to finance development of its pneumonia drug and other treatments through the end of 2017.
Cempra has spent a decade developing Solithera, an injectable pneumonia treatment designed to address the growing problem of antibiotic resistance among patients. Cempra officials are hoping for December approval in time for the 2017 flu season.
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The company said that the Food and Drug Administration has scheduled a Nov. 4 meeting to discuss the Solithera application with the agency’s Antimicrobial Drugs Advisory Committee. The drug is designed to thwart community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, or CABP, a potentially fatal infectious disease spread through hospitals.
In the third quarter, Cempra has hired more than 20 regional sales managers and 15 medical affairs professionals to push the drug out into the market after it is approved. Cempra is also planning to target health insurers to win generous insurance coverage for the pneumonia treatment.
Cempra officials expects to deploy 200-300 sales force nationwide, and told analysts Thursday that they expect rapid adoption by doctors.
Cempra issued its third-quarter earnings after the close of market trading Thursday. The company’s shares closed at $23.44, down 12 cents, and have slipped 25 percent this year.