Ovid Realigns C-Suite After Throwing in the Towel on Phase III Candidate


When your late-stage candidate flops in Phase III, it's time to rock the boat and realign the sails. Ovid Therapeutics is freshening up its C-suite with some changes on the heels accepting defeat for its Angelman Syndrome drug. 

Since March, Ovid has reduced its staff by about 25%. This week's announcement includes a step to the side for Chief Medical Officer Amit Rakhit, who was brought on in 2016 to oversee the now debunked Angelman program. Rakhit will transition from CMO to the biotech's advisory board. 

"It was a privilege to have Amit as part of the Ovid management team," Ovid CEO Jeremy Levin said. "He is a friend and colleague and made significant contributions. While his daily presence within Ovid will be missed, we look forward to his contributions on the scientific and clinical advisory board." 

To "align the organization" to the goal of next-gen neuroscience medicines, Dr. Michael Poole is joining the board. The wealth of experience under Poole's belt includes stints at Pfizer and AstraZeneca and roles in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Moving up the ladder are Claude Nicaise, who will now be Head of Research and Development, and Jason Tardio, newly appointed COO.  

Staffers boosting their standing to the level of SVP are Todd Baumgartner for Regulatory Affairs, Pharmacovigilance and Biometrics, Luke Rosen for Accelerated Development and Community Engagement, and Julia Tsai for Clinical Development and Medical Affairs. 

In December, Ovid announced the Phase III results of its Neptune trial for OV101 did not meet its primary endpoint. In April, the company officially threw in the towel on the candidate for both Angelman and Fragile X syndromes and pivoted to prioritize its early-stage pipeline. 

A short hairpin RNA therapy targeting UBE3A gene expression to treat Angelman, a rare genetic neurological disorder that causes physical and intellectual disabilities, is in the research stage of Ovid's pipeline. 

At the top of the pipeline is a CH24H inhibitor, soticlestat, for the treatment of two forms of rare epilepsy. The drug met its primary endpoint in Phase II by reducing seizure frequency in pediatric patients with Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.  

Takeda bought in on these results, signing a licensing agreement valued at $856 million for global rights to the drug. Phase III studies for both children and adults are planned for later this year.  

The two companies first paired up to research the drug in 2017. Under the terms of this new deal, Takeda will assume sole responsibility for soticlestat.  

Ovid snagged an upfront payment of $196 million to help the company focus on its three early-stage candidates in the pipeline. A GABA aminotransferase inhibitor is in preclinical stages for Seizures associated with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex and Infantile Spasms.

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