Pharmos Corp., a former David Blech-associated company, has cut iswork force by 20 percent and is moving its New York headquarterssouth to Florida in a continuing effort to rally from the effects of thecollapse of Blech's biotechnology investment machine.

Pharmos Chairman Haim Aviv said the move from New York willconsolidate the company's corporate headquarters with its researchfacilities in Alachua, Fla.

He told BioWorld that 20 of the company's 100 employees are beinglaid off. Pharmos also will re-evaluate some programs and delayothers, he added, in favor of concentrating on its lead product,Loteprednol, a patented steroid used to treat ocular inflammation(conjunctivitis) and allergies.

"Loteprednol has successfully completed Phase III trials and weexpect to file our new drug application with the FDA in twomonths," Aviv said. "We're also in negotiations for corporatepartners."

Pharmos was among the biotechnology companies hit hard when theNew York investment firm of D. Blech & Co. stopped makingmarket Sept. 22.

In addition to watching its stock plummet, Pharmos lost ananticipated $10 million in new financing, which was supposed to beraised from a Blech-underwritten offering the day he shut down.

In early October, Pharmos raised $5.6 million in two privateplacements of 5.1 million shares to keep operating. The layoffs andmove to Florida are part of a subsequent realignment aimed atfocusing efforts on getting Loteprednol on the market.

Aviv said Blech, who has owned 40 percent of Pharmos, is no long astockholder in the company.

"We have enough money to operate through the second quarter of1995," Aviv said. "And unlike many of our peer biotechnologycompanies, we have a product that has successfully finished PhaseIII trials."

Pharmos stock (NASDAQ:PARS) closed Monday at $1.25,unchanged. n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.