Pacific Northwest NeoRx said yesterday it would lay off 40 percent of its staff and take a $2 million restructuring charge as it abandons...

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Pacific Northwest

NeoRx

Biotech to lay off 21 of 50 employees

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NeoRx said yesterday it would lay off 40 percent of its staff and take a $2 million restructuring charge as it abandons clinical development of STR, a potential drug for multiple myeloma and other cancers.

The Seattle biotechnology company said it will lay off 21 of its 50 employees: nine in Seattle, including two Ph.D.-level researchers, and 12 at an STR manufacturing plant in Denton, Texas.

NeoRx will focus instead on clinical trials for picoplatin, a possible treatment for small-cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer. The decision comes after NeoRx said last month that its auditor had raised “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern,” based on repeated losses, negative cash flow and an accumulated deficit.

Amazon.com

Net retailer opens wedding registry

Amazon.com has opened a wedding registry and planning service on its Web site to compete with online wedding planners such as The Knot.

Amazon’s registry will give gift buyers access to millions of products, said Kerry Morris, an Amazon merchandising manager. The site also links to local vendors, including florists and caterers. David Garrity, an analyst with Caris & Co., said the new business should improve the Seattle Internet retailer’s profit margin.

Nautilus

Fitness company acquires distributor

Nautilus acquired the exclusive Canadian distributor of its Bowflex and Schwinn fitness equipment for about $5.5 million to expand its distribution channels.

Vancouver, Wash.-based Nautilus said yesterday that it expects the acquisition of Winnipeg-based Belko Canada will add to its earnings this year.

Belko, which has been a Nautilus distributor since 1996, will stop selling other fitness-equipment brands.

Nation / World

American International

Ex-CEO probed for stock dealings

Federal and state prosecutors are investigating whether Maurice Greenberg, the ousted chief executive officer of American International Group (AIG), tried to prop up the insurer’s stock price in the weeks before an accounting probe forced him out, people familiar with the matter said.

Prosecutors for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer are examining whether Greenberg, 80, ordered an executive in AIG’s trading group to buy shares as the price was falling, said the people, who declined to be identified.

Berkshire Hathaway

Insurance giant’s profits fall 12%

NEW YORK — Berkshire Hathaway, the insurance giant run by Warren Buffett, yesterday said its profit fell 12 percent in the first quarter.

The company also said that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sent a so-called Wells notice to a senior vice president of its General Reinsurance subsidiary on Monday, warning that the SEC staff may recommend bringing civil action against this individual.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, The Associated Press, Dow Jones/AP and Bloomberg News.