Depomed has hired Stan Bukofzer, M.D., an Abbott veteran who also served in VP spots at Astellas and Hospira, as its senior vice president and chief medical and scientific officer. He follows fellow Abbott alum, Arthur Higgins, who took the helm at Depomed in March 2017.
Most recently, Bukofzer was chief medical officer at Ocera Therapeutics, a biotech focusing on acute and orphan liver diseases that was acquired by Mallinckrodt in December. His appointment comes after his predecessor, Santosh Vetticaden, elected not to move from Depomed’s old HQ in California to its new digs in Lake Forest, Ill., the company said in a statement. The relocation would save $10 million, but cost 40% of Depomed’s employees their jobs.
“Stan brings a deep understanding of medical affairs, a strong track record of clinical development and extensive experience of scientific support for product in-licensing. He is a great asset to Depomed at this pivotal time as we advance our Three Pillar Growth Strategy,” Higgins said. The strategy includes maintaining its Nucynta franchise, growing its neurology and pain unit and building a new orphan specialty business, Higgins said on the Q4 2017 earnings call.
Depomed picked up Nucynta ER and XR from Johnson & Johnson in January 2015, but licensed the drugs to Collegium Pharmaceutical for just $10 million upfront in December. It expects to save cash with the deal, though—cutting its brand spending and sales force would bring costs down by $70 million per year. And it expects to receive a minimum royalty of $135 million per year for the first four years of the deal.
The company acquired the U.S. rights to cosyntropin, the base of its new orphan specialty business, from Ireland’s Slán Medicinal Holdings. West Therapeutic Development, a Slán subsidiary, plans to submit an NDA for cosyntropin later this year for an undisclosed indication, with hopes to launch the drug in late 2019 or early 2020. Depomed is also working on a second indication for the drug: infantile spasms, a specific seizure type seen in infantile epilepsy syndrome.
“I am excited to be joining Depomed at such a transformational time for the business,” Bukofzer said. “Depomed presents a rare opportunity to play a central role in the building of a leading specialty pharmaceutical company that is focused on addressing important areas of therapeutic need.”