is laying off some 20 members of its 170-person work force as part of a plan to focus on potential drugs in the latter stages of development.

Inspire (Nasdaq: ISPH) disclosed the layoffs and movement away from early-stage, pre-clinical research after reporting a $9.7 million loss for the fourth quarter of 2008.

The pharmaceutical firm ended up losing $51.6 million, or 91 cents a share, for the year.

Inspire also forecast continued losses in 2009, with revenue expected to range between $80 million and $90 million and expenses between $120 million and $135 million.

Company revenues did increase 45 percent in 2008 to $70.5 million from $48.7 million a year earlier. Operating expenses also increased, climbing to $120.2 million from $114.5 million in 2007.

Despite the increase in revenue, Inspire burned through $66.7 million in cash and investments over the course of 2008. It reported cash equivalents and investments of $73 million as of Dec. 31.

“Given the current economic and capital-raising environment, we are prioritizing and focusing resources on our late-stage, clinical programs and revenue-generating marketed products,” Chief Executive Officer Christy Shaffer said in a statement.