Peer Review

Daniel Swisher leaves an ailing Sunesis and swoops in to lead Jazz Pharmaceuticals

Daniel Swisher

Daniel Swisher, the CEO of the struggling Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, has been recruited to global biopharma Jazz Pharmaceuticals as the company’s new president and chief operations officer.

Swisher is taking over the spot from Russell Cox, who’s resigned from the Dublin company to lead an unnamed biopharmaceutical company working in liver disease as CEO. Swisher will start in the new role just after the holidays.

For nearly two decades, Swisher has worked at Sunesis $SNSS in various positions of leadership, most recently as president and CEO. The company, which is developing drugs for blood cancers and solid tumors, never truly recovered from a late-stage clinical trial flop that tanked its stock in 2014. Back then, the company’s lead drug candidate vosaroxin failed to extend survival of elderly patients with advanced acute myeloid leukemia compared to placebo. Sunesis’ investors rushed to sell, dropping the stock over 70% over one weekend. Since then, the stock has continued to fall, now down 95% from it’s 2014 high.

At Jazz Pharmaceuticals $JAZZ, Swisher is stepping into a company with a tad more investor support. Jazz, which is also developing oncology meds (among other product areas), has a market cap of $8 billion compared to Sunesis’ $79 million. It’s paying Swisher a base salary of $625,000, according to its 8-K filed with the SEC. That’s compared to Swisher’s 2016 salary of $515,000 at Sunesis, their latest proxy says.

Jazz, although based in Dublin, is an international company with several offices, including one in the Bay Area (where Swisher is currently based). The company has a portfolio of marketed products and product candidates in areas like sleep, hematology and oncology.

At Jazz, Swisher will be focused on expanding global operations and beefing up commercial and R&D portfolios.

“I look forward to working with the leadership team as we focus on global operational excellence and growth through the introduction and adoption of important new therapeutic options to patients,” Swisher said in a statement.

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