Verastem CEO Forrester steps to the exit as the board hunts commercial-savvy exec for the beleaguered biotech
Robert Forrester is stepping down as CEO of Verastem Oncology $VSTM just 8 months after the company nabbed an approval for duvelisib, a PI3K drug with a storied past — and what appears as not much of a future.
The biotech put out word this morning that Forrester will take an advisory role with Verastem while COO Dan Paterson steps up to take charge of the leadership team and the board looks around for a new CEO.
Lead director Michael G. Kauffman said in a statement that the company will search for a new chief with substantial commercial experience.
They’ll need it.
Duvelisib was approved last fall and ushered into the market under the new name Copiktra, looking to carve out a piece of the cancer market with a drug given an accelerated approval for third-line cases of follicular lymphoma. The company says it’s staying on track to gross about $10 million to $12 million in revenue from sales of the drug this year — not the kind of numbers likely to trigger enthusiasm in the booming oncology field.
With an approval looming, Verastem’s shares shot up to a recent peak last summer that neared the $10 mark, then began a fast fall to the $1.90 close yesterday with a modest $140 million market cap.
In desperate straights after the failure of the original cancer R&D plan established by Christoph Westphal, Forrester picked the drug up with no money down from Infinity, which punted on unexceptional — though approvable — data after AbbVie walked clear of their collaboration.