In keeping with the recent trend of top R&D executives moving to smaller biotechs, Sanofi’s Eckhard Leifke, M.D., the giant’s global head of diabetes late-stage development, is making the jump to Seattle-based Omeros to become its chief medical officer and VP of clinical development.
Leifke—who also led Sanofi’s global early project and external opportunity work in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and previously held global positions at Bayer and Takeda—will take over the VP role from J. Steven Whitaker, M.D., J.D.
Whitaker will move his attention to Omeros’ midphase clinical work surrounding its antibody OMS721, being studied in thrombotic microangiopathy, or the clotting of capillaries and arterioles associated with about 30% of hematopoietic stem cell transplants, among other potential indications.
“We’re pleased to welcome Eckhard to our senior leadership team, and I expect that his proven track record and thoughtful approach to strategic drug development globally will be valuable assets for Omeros,” Chairman and CEO Gregory Demopulos, M.D., said in a statement.
“I’d like to recognize Steve Whitaker for his ongoing exemplification of that same commitment, and I look forward to his leading OMS721 to a successful outcome in stem-cell TMA, currently one of Omeros’ highest priorities,” Demopulos said.
Omeros has seen its share of ups and downs, including last summer over OMS721, after a short seller raised doubts about the company’s data backing up its position that the drug could become a more convenient alternative to Alexion’s Soliris blockbuster in atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The company defended its data and petitioned a judge to intervene and take down the short seller’s report from the internet, but it remained silent on questions from STAT over perceived gaps in its pitch. Omeros later issued a press release calling STAT’s article inaccurate, and said it did not respond to questions because of the ongoing legal action.
By Conor Hale
Source: Fierce Biotech
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