Business in brief

CombinatoRx to cut 50 after drug disappoints

November 1, 2008
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CombinatoRx Inc., a Cambridge biotechnology company that recently reported disappointing clinical results for its lead drug candidate, a treatment for osteoarthritis, plans to cut nearly one-third of its staff to conserve cash. The firm said it will shed 50 of its 140 employees in Cambridge, but did not say which departments were affected or how much money would be saved. CombinatoRx, which also has 20 employees in Singapore, said it will provide more details when it reports quarterly earnings on Wednesday. The news comes three weeks after the firm reported that a midstage clinical trial found its Synavive drug was not much more effective than a placebo or steroid in reducing knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. (Todd Wallack)

39 Mass., R.I. Verizon engineers may lose jobs
At least three dozen Verizon Communications engineers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island will lose their jobs by the end of the month, union officials said, as part of a plan to eliminate 2,700 management-level jobs nationwide. The cuts were reported in a Verizon filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week. The New York company's total workforce - about 13,000 in Massachusetts, and 228,000 nationwide - will not be reduced because of hires it is making in other areas, according to Verizon spokesman Philip Santoro. He declined to say how many Massachusetts employees would lose their jobs. But union spokesman Rand Wilson said at least 39 engineers who work in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have been told they are being laid off. (Erin Ailworth)

Tweeter reportedly sold to a liquidation firm
An Internet consumer electronics publication reported that Canton-based electronics retailer Tweeter Inc. has been purchased by a liquidation firm and has closed all its distribution centers. According to the online edition of TWICE magazine, Tweeter executives notified their regional managers Thursday night. Tweeter officials did not respond to phone calls from the Globe, while managers of Tweeter's retail stores refused to comment. George J. Schultze, managing member of Schultze Asset Management LLC, the investment firm that owns Tweeter, also refused to comment. (Hiawatha Bray)

Raytheon wins $441.9m US missile contract
Raytheon Co., the world's largest missile maker, won a contract valued up to $441.9 million from the Defense Department to develop and test a system that shoots down enemy missiles. Waltham-based Raytheon will get $54 million for the first tranche of work on the Ballistic Missile Defense System Multiple Kill Vehicle Payload System, the Pentagon said on its website. The work will be done in Tucson, and be completed by December 2011. (Bloomberg)

Scientists fault FDA's findings on bisphenol A
Scientists advising the Food and Drug Administration said the agency produced a flawed safety assessment of a chemical used for decades in baby bottles and food storage containers. A panel of doctors and researchers meeting in Gaithersburg, Md., didn't determine whether the chemical is safe, and said more research is needed. Instead, the panel unanimously backed a report by two of its members saying the FDA failed to provide sufficient evidence that the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, isn't a risk to the public. Bisphenol A has been linked in some research to diabetes and developmental changes in children. (Bloomberg)

Florida's Freedom Bank closes, is 17th to fail
Freedom Bank of Bradenton, Fla., was closed by regulators, the 17th US bank seized this year as the deepest housing slump since the Great Depression triggers record foreclosures. Freedom, with $287 million in assets and $254 million in deposits, was shut by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was named receiver. Cincinnati's Fifth Third Bancorp will assume the deposits and buy $36 million of assets, the FDIC said. (Bloomberg)

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