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New leader at Medivir after setbacks

Christine Lind departs Swedish biotech

Shares in Swedish biotech Medivir were sliding this morning on the sudden departure of chief executive Christine Lind, to be replaced by board member Uli Hacksell.

Lind leaves the company after just 18 months in the job, and according to Medivir the changeover is intended to help the company “concentrate its activities on clinical development.”

Christine LindUll Hacksell

Christine Lind has been replaced by Uli Hacksell

Medivir has suffered a couple of recent pipeline setbacks in the summer, it was forced to delay a pivotal clinical trials programme for lead compound remetinostat, intended as a treatment for early-stage cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), because it couldn’t agree on a design with the FDA. The programme had been due to start before the end of the year but has now been set back until 2019.

Meanwhile, last year Johnson & Johnson ducked out of a partnership on a hepatitis C virus programme after deciding the market opportunity wasn’t sufficiently attractive.

The company now says that its “strong clinical portfolio…calls for a firm management that is able to reinforce the focus on clinical development throughout the company.”

Hacksell – who is described in a statement as ‘acting’ CEO – will be the fourth person at the helm of the Stockholm-based biotech as many years, and only joined the company’s board in May having previously had a 15-year stint as CEO of Acadia Pharma which came to end in 2015 after the company was forced to delay a filing for its lead drug pimavanserin.

Last year, Lind took over from Nikolas Prager, who had held the role since 2014 when he replaced Maris Hartmanis.

Medivir bought the rights to remetinostat from TetraLogic Pharma for $12m upfront in November 2016, and is positioning the HDAC inhibitor as an alternative to current therapies for CTCL, addressing a market it has estimated at around $900m a year.

The HDAC inhibitor class has taken a knock recently, however, after Syndax’s rival entinostat candidate failed to hit the mark in a combination trial with Merck & Co/MSD’s anti-PD-1 drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in lung cancer.

Along with remetinostat, Medivir’s clinical pipeline includes birinapant for solid tumours, MIV-818 for liver cancer and MIV-711 for osteoarthritis.

Article by
Phil Taylor

15th October 2018

From: Sales

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