Kelly Martin is once again running a biotech company — only this time it’s just a temporary gig until a more permanent replacement can be found to run Novan $NOVN, a portfolio company of his at Malin that ran into some profound trouble recently.
Martin, the former chief executive at Elan, switched to interim CEO from his post on the board at Novan, which he acquired as his venture group Malin jumped in as a big investor of the University of North Carolina spinout. He was tapped as the board decided to shake things up, laying off around a dozen staffers and focusing the founding CEO Nate Stasko on his role as chief scientific officer.
Novan’s shares were tossed into the Wall Street shredder in late January when the biotech revealed that one of its Phase III studies for its lead drug for acne failed and the other cleared — but just barely — the bar for statistical significance.
The company has been building a nitric oxide platform and has had some ambitious plans to use it for a broad range of applications.
Durham, NC-based Novan’s latest statement makes clear that the company hasn’t given up on the drug, which it once boasted was the first important new drug to come along for acne in 20 years. But investors aren’t very enthusiastic. The biotech’s market cap has shriveled from close to $300 million to $72 million as the company looks to conserve cash and figure out how to overcome this big setback.
Martin, a Merrill Lynch veteran who was frequently castigated for his freewheeling use of the corporate jet at Elan, sold the biotech to Perrigo for $8.6 billion. As the head man at Malin, Martin has been investing heavily in a group of transatlantic biotechs.
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