12/06/2012 10:54 EST | Updated 02/05/2013 05:12 EST

Drug developer QLT cutting 42 per cent of workforce, to take $2-million charge

VANCOUVER - QLT Inc. (TSX:QLT) is cutting 27 jobs, or 42 per cent of its remaining workforce at the one-time heavyweight in Canada's biotechnology sector.

The layoffs will leave just 38 employees at the company.

QLT, which has sold its main product line, said Thursday that its remaining employees after the latest downsizing will be focused on the clinical development of synthetic oral retinoid program.

The plan follows the sale by QLT of Visudyne, its flagship product, to Valeant Pharmaceuticals Inc. (TSX:VRX) for $112.5 million. Visudyne combines an injectable drug and laser light to treat age-related macular degeneration.

QLT expects to take a $2-million restructuring charge related to the job cuts, said the affected employees will leave during the first half of 2013.

QLT expects to save $3.8 million in annualized expenses once the cuts are fully implemented.

The cuts follow a move by QLT earlier this year to cut 146 of its 214 jobs at the time.

In September, QLT said it planned to buy back up to 3.4 million of its shares over the next year as the first step in a plan to return $100 million to stockholders.