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Targacept CEO J Donald deBethizy steps down after pipeline failures

Board reshuffle follows termination of AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline collaborations

The CEO of US biotech Targacept Dr J Donald deBethizy is to leave his position following a difficult period of poor trial results and failed partnerships.

Until a replacement is found his responsibilities will be taken over by board chair Mark Skaletsky who will assume a new role as head of office of the chairman, with Dr deBethizy to serve as an advisor during the transitional period.

Dr deBethizy had been CEO of the nervous system specialists since 2000, but the company has faced many challenges in the past 18 months.

This included the termination of its partnership with GlaxoSmithKline to develop products targeting neuronal nicotinic receptors, with Targacept losing out on a potential $1.5bn in milestone payments.

The company's collaboration with AstraZeneca was also brought to an abrupt end in March, 2012 after poor results in phase III studies for what would have been a first-in-class antidepressant.

“I am proud of what we have built at Targacept over the years and continue to believe strongly that the company will do great things,” said Dr deBethizy on his departure.

In addition to Skaletsky's new position, three other members of the office of the chairman were appointed: Jeffrey Brennan, SVP, business and commercial development and chief business officer; Alan Musso, SVP, finance and administration, chief financial officer and treasurer; and Peter Zorn. SVP legal affairs, general counsel and secretary.

8th June 2012

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