EpiCept Corporation announced that it is discontinuing all drug discovery activities and implementing an approximate 65 per cent reduction in its workforce. EpiCept will direct its resources toward the registration of Ceplene in North America and clinical development programmes. When complete, these actions are expected to reduce annual expenses by at least $5.5 million.

"This is a difficult decision and is largely attributable to the current financing environment, but in taking these actions we will help ensure that EpiCept has the resources to execute our development strategies for our most advanced opportunities," stated Jack Talley, president and chief executive officer of EpiCept. "We are currently focused on partnering Ceplene in Europe and pursuing regulatory approval of Ceplene in the US and Canada. In addition, we look forward to advancing our other drug candidates through key clinical trials, such as our Phase 1b development program for EPC 2407 in patients with advanced solid tumours and lymphomas."

Under the workforce reduction plan, most of the affected positions will be eliminated immediately and the remainder will be eliminated over the next three to six months. The company expects to incur a one-time charge during the first quarter of 2009 of approximately $2.5 million in connection with the closing of the San Diego facility. EpiCept plans to offer the proprietary ASAP drug discovery technology for sale or partnering to an interested party.

Talley continued, "We greatly appreciate the dedication and significant contributions of the employees affected by this decision, particularly those who were with Maxim during the initial development of Ceplene."

EpiCept is focused on unmet needs in the treatment of cancer and pain. The Company's broad portfolio of pharmaceutical product candidates includes Ceplene, a cytokine immunomodulator that recently received marketing authorization in Europe for the remission maintenance of AML patients, and several pain therapies in clinical development.