Sector News

Investors cheer as Arena forces out CEO and cofounder

October 6, 2015
Life sciences

Arena Pharmaceuticals’ board of directors is getting its way: CEO Jack Lief is hitting the road.

On Monday, Lief retired from the company at the board’s request, the California drugmaker said in an SEC filing. Among the benefits he’ll take with him: A $1.8 million cash severance payment, 18 months of continued health insurance coverage, and acceleration of the stock options and RSUs that would have vested over the next year and a half.

Harry Hixson, one of the company’s directors, will fill in while Arena looks for a replacement.

Lief, who cofounded Arena, has “contributed in many ways” since launching the company in 1997, Hixson said in a statement, overseeing the approval and rollout of obesity therapy Belviq and developing “a robust clinical stage pipeline and productive research platform.”

Yet investors cheered the news of his departure following the announcement, sending shares up 5.1%.

The search for a more permanent stand-in will begin immediately, Arena said–and whoever lands in Lief’s old spot will have their job cut out for them. Belviq and rival Qsymia from Vivus recently ceded the top spot in the market for weight-loss meds to new challenger Contrave from Orexigen.

It’s not too late for Belviq to get back in the game, however: As of the week ended Sept. 11, Contrave held 38% of the market, with Belviq holding down the No. 2 spot with 30% and Qsymia, at 27%, bringing up the rear.

But if it wants to stage a comeback, it’ll have to do so with a sales force one-third the size of the one Orexigen’s marketing partner, Takeda, has on the ground. Eisai, Arena’s own partner, currently has 300 reps in the field–a tally that pales in comparison to the 900-rep army Takeda can boast.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

comments closed

Related News

November 28, 2021

Founder-led biotech is making space for ideas—and diverse leaders—where it didn’t exist before

Life sciences

Decades ago, the founder-led biotech was rare and considered the tougher path to follow. Now there is a trend of founder-led biotechs that have risen in prominence in recent years, going from startup to well known with lightning speed. Scientists-turned C-suite occupants know their technology inside out. They’ve got credibility both at the bench working with their research teams and in the boardrooms selling their future products.

November 28, 2021

Pfizer to become $100B behemoth next year thanks to COVID-19 drug and vaccine: analyst

Life sciences

Pfizer’s revenue could reach $101.3 billion in 2022, with major contributions coming from the company’s BioNTech-partnered COVID vaccine and an antiviral therapeutic that has shown stellar clinical data, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges projected in a Monday note to clients.

November 28, 2021

GlaxoSmithKline takes aim at sick pay access inequities with microgrant program and new campaign

Life sciences

In a survey commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health division of 2,000 working people in the U.S., almost 70% admitted to clocking in while sick, often because they couldn’t afford to lose a day’s pay. Black and Latina women were 10% more likely than white women to shun taking sick time for fear of fallout from their boss, according to the company’s 2021 Temperature Check Report.

Send this to a friend