Effective Immediately: Advaxis CEO Resigns, Interim Leader Named

Published: Jul 07, 2017

Effective Immediately: Advaxis CEO Resigns, Interim Leader Named July 7, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

PRINCETON, NJ – Advaxis Immunotherapies announced that its chief executive officer, Daniel O’Connor, is resigning from the company and its board of directors. Anthony “Tony” Lombardo will become interim CEO while a permanent replacement is chosen. O’Connor’s resignation is effective immediately.

Advaxis is an immuno-oncology company. In mid-June the company updated its various trials and regulatory filings, of which there are many. Several of them are ADXS-PSA in combination with Merck ’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for prostate cancer in a clinical trial. Axalimogene filolisbac received Fast Track designation for high-risk locally advanced cervical cancer for a Phase III clinical trial. ADX-DUAL is about to start a registrational trial with Bristol-Myers Squibb ’s Opdivo for recurrent or metastatic squamous or non-squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix. There is an ongoing Phase II trial of axalimogene filolisbac in combination with AstraZeneca ’s Imfinzi (durvalumab) in metastatic cervical cancer and metastatic head and neck cancer.

O’Connor has been the president and chief executive officer of Advaxis since January 2013. Prior to that, he was vice president and general counsel of Bracco Diagnostics. Earlier positions included senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for ImClone Systems, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company , general counsel of PharmaNet/i3, and assistant prosecutor for the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

During his tenure, he led the company’s efforts to push its lead product through final development, oversaw various clinical collaborations and brought in more than $250 million in investments.

Lombardo joined Advaxis as chief business officer earlier this year. Previous positions included president and chief executive officer of E-Z-EM and president of ALI Imaging Systems. E-Z-EM was acquired by Bracco Diagnostic for $240 million.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Advaxis for the past several years,” O’Connor said in a statement. “The company has powerful technology and a strong management team. I have every confidence in their ability to ensure the company’s continued success.”

David Sidransky, chairman of Advaxis’ board, said in a statement, “Dan O’Connor has guided Advaxis through a crucial stage in its expansion to become a well-capitalized, NASDAQ-traded company with a burgeoning clinical pipeline and growing scientific and intellectual property assets. He has built a strong management team to move the company toward financial success. We thank Dan for his leadership and accomplishments at Advaxis and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

O’Connor joined the company in January 2013 as senior vice president and became chief executive officer in August. At that time, the company was working to come back from a failed cancer vaccine, and later had a clinical hold placed on it by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One of O’Connor’s triumphs was a deal with Amgen .

Lombardo, or whoever replaces him, will likely be focused on filing with the European Union regulatory agency for approval of axalimogene filolisbac for metastatic cervical cancer. The company has plans to submit the application by the end of this year. It also has fast-track designation from the FDA.

Advaxis is currently trading for $6.41.

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