Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:RIGL) announced plans to build a commercial organization to support the potential launch of fostamatinib, its oral SYK inhibitor, for the treatment of chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). The company recently reported that fostamatinib met the primary endpoint in the first of two identical Phase 3 studies in chronic ITP. Results of the second Phase 3 clinical study are expected in late October or early November.

Rigel has reduced its workforce by 38%, resulting in the elimination of 46 positions, mostly in the research area. A smaller research department will continue Rigel’s mission to identify and develop novel small molecule therapeutics and will maintain active programs in immunology and oncology. This reduction and refocus is expected to provide approximately $17-20 million in savings annually going forward. Rigel is still assessing the full charges associated with this measure including approximately $5.7 million in cash-related restructuring expenses, which are expected to be recorded predominantly in the third quarter of 2016.

In addition, Donald G. Payan, M.D, a Rigel co-founder, has retired from the board of directors and from his position as executive vice president and president of discovery and research. “Don has been instrumental in creating and maintaining a prolific discovery pipeline throughout Rigel’s history, and we are grateful for all of his expertise and contributions that have led us to this important stage,” said Raul Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of Rigel. “We would also like to thank the employees who will no longer be at Rigel for their contributions and we wish them the best in their future endeavors,” he added.

Rigel also announced that Eldon C. Mayer III will be joining Rigel as executive vice president and chief commercial officer (CCO) to lead the launch of fostamatinib, including the establishment and management of a commercial organization.  Most recently, Mr. Mayer successfully led Questcor Pharmaceuticals’ commercial strategy and functions, which included a product launch into multiple indications and physician audiences that resulted in considerable increases in Questcor’s sales revenue during his tenure. His prior experience included various commercial management roles for Connetics Corporation, Chiron Corporation, Alza Corporation and Schering-Plough.

“We have reached an important threshold with fostamatinib where we need the capabilities of an experienced CCO to take fostamatinib into its next phase, ” said Raul Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of Rigel. “Eldon is a proven leader whose expertise and prior success will be integral to maximizing the potential commercial opportunity for the product. We are looking forward to having Eldon join Rigel, and accelerating the process toward becoming a commercial enterprise,” he added. (Original Source)

Shares of Rigel Pharmaceuticals closed yesterday at $3.41, up $0.07 or 2.10%. RIGL has a 1-year high of $4.06 and a 1-year low of $1.88. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $2.96 and its 200-day moving average is $2.53.

On the ratings front, RIGL stock has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on August 31, H.C. Wainwright analyst Shaunak Deepak reiterated a Buy rating on RIGL, with a price target of $7.00 which represents a potential upside of 105% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on the same day, BMO’s Do Kim maintained a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $6.00.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Shaunak Deepak and Do Kim have a total average return of -23.3% and 27.7% respectively. Deepak has a success rate of 37% and is ranked #3920 out of 4151 analysts, while Kim has a success rate of 68% and is ranked #332.

Overall, 5 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $6.00 which is 76.0% above where the stock closed yesterday.

Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a clinical stage drug development company. It discovers and develops novel, targeted drugs in the therapeutic areas of immunology, oncology and immune oncology. The company focuses on intracellular signaling pathways and related targets that are critical to disease mechanisms. Its current product development programs include Fostamatinib Oral SYK Inhibitor and R348 Topical Ophthalmic JAK/SYK Inhibitor.