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Anthony Zook resigns as Vivus CEO

Replaced by former J&J executive Seth Fischer

Vivus CEO Anthony Zook has resigned his position due to health concerns and will be replaced by Seth Fischer, a former senior executive at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) who retired from the company in 2012.

Vivus did not disclose the nature of the health issue, but said that “after consultations with his physician, Mr Zook determined that he must focus attention on a resolution of this condition”.

Zook said: “This has been a difficult decision. Unfortunately, I cannot devote the necessary time and focus to the company, but instead must concentrate on personal health issues."

It was only two months ago in July 2013 when former AstraZeneca executive Zook took over as CEO at the company following the departure of CEO and founder Leland Wilson after shareholders became unhappy with the way Vivus handled the launch of its obesity drug Qsymia (phentermine/ topiramat).

This coup was led by investment group First Manhattan Co, which had attempted to replace the entire board of Vivus after Qsymia fell behind rival obesity drug Belviq (lorcaserin) from Arena Pharmaceuticals. Vivus also failed in a bid to win approval for the drug in Europe.

Now Fischer has the task of overturning the fortunes of Vivus, with the company's chairman Michael Astrue outlining four key goals.

These are to expand use of Qsymia through targeted patient and physician education; find a partner to help market Qsymia; create a pathway for approval in Europe; and eliminate expenses that are not essential to expanding use of Qsymia.

It will be a tough challenge for Fischer, even with his great experience in the industry, which includes his most recent role as company group chairman J&J and worldwide franchise chairman, Cordis Corporation from 2008 to 2012.

This was his final role in a career at J&J and its subsidiaries in a career that to date has also included spells as chairman North America Pharmaceutics and president of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceuticals.

He is currently a member of the board of directors of Trius Therapeutics and BioSig Technologies.

"We wish Tony the best as he faces his health challenges," said Fischer. "Helping Vivus realise its potential and achieve its stated goals represents an exciting opportunity, and I look forward to working with this unique organisation.”

Article by
Thomas Meek

5th September 2013

From: Sales

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