Ex-Allergan President Doug Ingram has been tapped to take charge at Sarepta Therapeutics $SRPT, the latest in a series of CEOs who will now lead the charge selling the controversial Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug Exondys 51.
Ingram last popped up on the biotech radar last fall after he sold Chase Pharmaceuticals to Brent Saunders, who had merged Actavis in Allergan and kept the biotech name for the larger operation. At Chase, Ingram had steered the biotech through a small but successful Phase II Alzheimer’s study, then gained $125 million upfront in a billion-dollar deal to sell the company to Allergan.
Now he’ll be taking over from Ed Kaye, the chief scientist who took over from Chris Garabedian as Sarepta continued its quest to gain an FDA approval for the experimental eteplirsen. Kaye, though, recently said he would be stepping aside, and the board went with a replacement with considerable commercial expertise — as well as back-to-back buyout deals for his companies.
Sarepta has followed up on the approval with a string of deals aimed at new and better meds for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But it’s the commercial challenge that will require all of Ingram’s skills. This drug usually starts at a cost of around $300,000 a year and then rises hundreds of thousands more, based on the weight of the patient. That steep cost, combined with a controversial accelerated approval based on a tiny study and a label that clearly notes the lack of evidence of a clinical benefit, has caused many insurers to dig their heels in. Some have either refused to cover the drug or have numerous rules aimed at limiting coverage.
Duchenne families, though, have provided support for Sarepta and its drug, lobbying the FDA for the initial OK and then turning their attention to reluctant insurers.
Kathleen Behrens, chair of Sarepta’s board of directors, noted:
Our team remains steadfast in its goal to ensure patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and their families have access to the best treatments. We look forward to working with Doug to continue helping those with serious unmet medical needs and thank Ed for his career-long pursuit to improve the lives of these patients, as well as his tremendous leadership to help bring Exondys 51 to patients and physicians.
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