Veru appoints new head of its U.S. Infectious Disease Franchise ahead of potential COVID-19 EUA
Who: Joel Batten joined Veru May 23 as head of the U.S. infectious disease division where he will lead the company’s state-side market strategy for sabizabulin — a potential COVID-19 treatment that the company is hoping to win an EUA for later this year. In addition to this potential indication, the company is studying sabizabulin for two types of cancer, and has plans to expand its development to other viral and inflammatory diseases.
Background: Batten has over 20 years of experience in infectious disease at AstraZeneca, MedImmune and Sanofi Aventis, where he led the commercialization of the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine Synagis through multiple acquisitions. Prior to joining Veru, he led sales and development for the RSV franchise at Sobi North America. His experience spans numerous areas of commercialization including product launch, sales management, commercial infrastructure, distribution and patient services
Why it matters: Veru’s banking on Batten’s expertise to help it quickly scale up distribution and commercialization ahead of an anticipated FDA EUA approval for its COVID-19 treatment sabizabulin this fall.
“We are excited to have Joel join Veru at such a critical juncture in our Company’s history as we build on the momentum of our positivephase 3 sabizabulin for COVID-19 trial, our planned EUA submission, and the transition to delivering sabizabulin, if EUA is granted, to hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk for ARDS,” Veru CEO, Mitchell Steiner, said in a press release.
Learn more: We recently looked at the potential impact of the upcoming FDA decision on Veru in a conversation with CEO Mitchell Steiner. Read more about the company’s broader strategy to develop potential blockbuster oncology drugs while avoiding biotech’s “valley of death” in our profile of the company published in February.
MindMed moves to ‘bring the right people in the door’ by naming Schond L. Greenway as chief commercial officer
Who: Also on May 23, Mind Medicine, a clinical-stage biotech company focused on developing psychedelic-inspired medicines, announced Schond L. Greenway as its new chief financial officer.
Background: Over the last decade, Greenway has led investor relations, business development and financial strategy for small-cap biotech companies including as executive director, Strategy & Investor Relations at the oncology-focused Halozyme Therapeutics, global head of investor relations for the Australian-based Mesoblast Limited and, most recently, as CFO for the immunology and rare-disease company Avalo Therapeutics. Prior to his experience working in-house for biotech’s, Greenway clocked over two decades as an investment banker in the healthcare and technology sectors.
Why it matters: Now, he’ll help lead MindMed through what CEO Robert Barrow has described as a period of growth as the company seeks to advance and de-risk its three lead candidates for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder and opioid use disorder.
“We are very excited to add Schond to our management team. Schond brings extensive expertise in U.S. biotech capital markets, which was a key attribute we sought in identifying a CFO,” Barrow said in a statement.
Learn more: In an interview with PharmaVoice contributor Alexandra Pecci, Barrow said he was “enormously optimistic” about the potential of the company's psychedelics-based candidates but noted that to bring the drugs to market, the company had to first “bring the right people in the door.” Greenway appears to fit the bill.
Horizon Therapeutics taps Jacopo Leonardi as president of global commercial operations
Who: Jacopo Leonardi started as head of global commercial operations at Horizon Therapeutics May 16. In the role, Leonardi oversees the company’s U.S. and international commercial organizations, commercial development and global medical affairs.
Background: Leonardi brings over two decades of commercial experience to the role including a stint as director of marketing at Janssen and as vice president of sales and marketing for Baxter BioTherapeutics. Most recently, Leonardi worked with healthcare companies as a partner at the international life sciences investment firm Agent Capital.
Why it matters: Horizon Therapeutics reached net sales of $3.23 billion in 2021, a 47% increase from the previous year. Most of this growth was driven by the company's thyroid eye disease treatment, Tepezza which had net sales of $1.66 billion. The company has begun expansion efforts into the European, South American and Japanese markets through the initiation of clinical trials and by taking steps toward regulatory approval in those regions.
Learn more: For more information about Horizon’s clinical development efforts, check out our profile of the company’s vice president of research and development, Elizabeth Thompson.
Inovio names Jacqueline Shea CEO during ‘particularly challenging period’ in company history
Who: Earlier this month, Jacqueline Shea went from COO to CEO of Inovio Pharmaceuticals following the resignation of the company’s founding CEO, Dr. Joseph Kim, May 10.
Background: Shea joined Inovio in 2019 and spearheaded the company’s manufacturing, commercial and business development projects as COO. Before joining Inovio, Shea served as COO, and later CEO, of Aeras, a nonprofit biotech developing new vaccines against tuberculosis.
Why it matters: Inovio has had a rough few years, and Shea will be tasked with pushing the company in a new direction. After a slew of setbacks, Inovio discontinued trials for its DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate in early May. The company is now transitioning to develop the vaccine candidate, INO-4800, as a booster instead.
“We look forward to Dr. Shea taking the helm during a particularly challenging period in Inovio's history. Her tenured leadership, deep knowledge of our business, and broad expertise makes her an excellent choice for the role,” Simon X. Benito, chairman of Inovio’s board, said in a statement.