Arena Board Terminates CMO Without Cause, Effective Immediately

Published: Jun 15, 2016

Arena Board Terminates CMO Without Cause, Effective Immediately June 15, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

SAN DIEGO -- William Shanahan, chief medical officer at Arena Pharmaceuticals is out. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Arena said Shanahan was terminated without cause on June 13, the same day as the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Shanahan served as Arena’s CMO since 2004. Prior to Arena, he served as chief medical officer at Texas-based Tanox Inc., which was later acquired by Genentech.

At this time there is no additional information as to why Shanahan was ousted from his role, but the company has been making several leadership changes, including the May appointment of Amit Munshi as president and chief executive officer of Arena. During the June 13 shareholders meeting, Munshi was given a spot on the company’s board of directors, without any additional compensation.

Prior to helming Arena, Munshi served as president and CEO of Epirus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. from May 2012 to May 2016. Before Epirus Munshi helmed Percivia LLC, a biotechnology company, from 2011 to 2012. He also held multiple leadership positions at Amgen Inc. from 1997 to 2005.

On June 15, Arena tapped Kevin Lind as its new chief financial officer. Before joining Arena, Lind served as a principal at TPG Special Situations Partners. Arena Pharmaceuticals is the maker of weight-loss drug Belviq. In addition to Belviq, which has struggled to find a solid base of prescribers, Arena has a number of proprietary clinical programs, including the recently named Etrasimod (formerly known as APD334). Etrasimod is a next generation, highly specific modulator of Sphingosine 1-Phosphate Subtype 1 aimed at treatment for ulcerative colitis and potentially inflammatory bowel disease. Another drug in its pipeline is Ralinepag (APD811), an agonist of the prostacyclin receptor. Ralinepag is currently in an ongoing Phase II clinical trial for pulmonary arterial hypertension. Arena is also developing APD371, an agonist of the cannabinoid-2 receptor. The investigational drug recently completed a Phase I multiple-ascending dose clinical trial with favorable results, and is under evaluation for pain indications.

Arena also has a number of ongoing collaborations with other companies, including a $262 million schizophrenia research deal with Boehringer Ingelheim. Under that deal, which was struck in January, the two companies will conduct joint research to identify drug candidates targeting an undisclosed G protein-coupled receptor, which belongs to the group of orphan CNS receptors. An "orphan receptor" is structurally related to a family of proteins that are known to act as functional cell-surface receptors but whose ligand has not yet been identified.

Arena’s stock is trading at $2 per share this morning.

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