Alder CEO Is Stepping Down

Executive Leaving Office

Alder BioPharmaceuticals, Inc., located in Bothell, Washington, announced that Randall Schatzman, the company’s president, chief executive officer and director, will be stepping down. It has appointed Paul Cleveland, one of its board members, to act as interim president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.

Shares dropped at the news, down about $1.50 to $12.10, the lowest since the beginning of the year. Share prices are down about 70 percent from their high in 2015.

Schatzman will continue to act as a consultant during an 18-month transition period. The company has hired Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search firm, to assist in finding a permanent replacement.

Cleveland is currently the chairman of the board of Adverum Biotechnologies, Inc., where he was previously the president and chief executive officer. Before that, he was president and chief executive officer of Celladon Corporation, where he had previously acted as chief financial officer. He also was executive vice president, Corporate Strategy and chief financial officer for Aragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Acquired by Johnson & Johnson).

In a statement, Schatzman said, “It has been an honor to lead Alder since co-founding the company in 2004 and work with such a bright and passionate group of employees to change the lives of highly impacted episodic and chronic migraine patients. I am proud of all that we have accomplished at Alder during my tenure including the development of two late-stage therapeutic candidates, eptinezumab and clazakizumab, assembling a talented team of over 190 employees, the majority of which are scientists and drug developers, and positioning Alder to positively impact the lives of migraine sufferers. Now is the right time to pass the baton to the next generation of leadership. I am confident that Alder is well-placed to set a new standard for what can be achieved in migraine prevention to benefit patients and their families.”

Neither Alder nor Schatzman provided details about the reasons for leaving. The company indicates it was a mutual decision, although the timing seems a bit strange.

When the company provided its fourth-quarter financial report on February 26, it highlighted the results of its Phase III clinical trials of eptinezumab for episodic and chronic migraine patients. Schatzman had said in a statement at the time, “If approved, eptinezumab has the potential to provide a meaningful treatment option for millions of migraine sufferers. Looking ahead to the remainder of 2018 and into 2019, we are focused on our BLA submission, gaining FDA approval and on our commercial readiness activities ahead of eptinezumab’s launch. Our 2017 year-end cash balances, together with the net proceeds of our two successful 2018 financings, total over $600 million, leaving us well-positioned to meet our projected operating requirements into 2020.”

The company had also settled a European patent dispute with Teva Pharmaceuticals International GmbH, which freed up Alder to develop, manufacture and commercialize eptinezumab in the U.S. and worldwide. Under the agreement, Alder won a non-exclusive license to Teva’s CGRP patent portfolio in the U.S. and globally, excluding Japan and Korea. Alder withdrew its appeal before the European Patent Office and paid Teva $25 million, and will pay Teva various milestones related to licensing and commercialization.

Challenges that face the company include efforts by Amgen, Novartis, Eli Lilly and Company and Teva in bringing their own anti-CGRP migraine drugs to market. It seems likely Alder would be interested in finding a partner or buyer to assist in its manufacturing and commercialization efforts as opposed to having its nascent sales team competing with the bigger, well-established rivals, and late-stage data has suggested the drug, if approved, may struggle to differentiate itself from its competitors.

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