Former Celgene Exec to Helm Cipher Pharma

Published: Mar 22, 2017

Former Celgene Exec to Helm Cipher Pharma March 21, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Cipher Pharmaceuticals , announced that Robert Tessarolo will take on the roles of president and chief executive officer effective April 17, 2017. In addition, at the company’s annual general meeting in May, he will be nominated to the board of directors.

Tessarolo’s most recent position was as vice president and general manager with Celgene Corporation . He headed Celgene’s U.S. Inflammation & Immunology business. Prior to Celgene, he led the launch of Actavis, plc ’s Canadian Specialty Pharmaceutical division, serving as president and general manager.

“We are very pleased that Rob has decided to join Cipher,” said John Mull, Cipher’s chairman of the board, in a statement. “We are confident that Rob’s proven track record and leadership qualities, combined with his extensive commercial and operational expertise, make him the right person to lead Cipher in its next stage of growth. I would also like to thank Stephen Lemieux for successfully leading the Company through the transition period. Stephen will continue in his role as CFO and Secretary of Cipher when Rob joins the team in April.”

Tessarolo is a member of the board of directors of Bradmer Pharmaceuticals. He graduated from Carleton University with a B.A. in Economics and attended the Advanced Management Program for General Management at Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

“I am thrilled to join Cipher at this exciting time,” Tessarolo said in a statement. “Building on a very strong foundation, the company is highly focused on driving growth and increasing shareholder value. I look forward to working with the team at Cipher to deliver on these expectations.”

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Cipher focuses on dermatology. Products include AL12 lotion, CNL8 for mild to moderate onychomycosis of fingernails and toenails, Inova for acne, and Umecta for debridement and promotion of healing of hyperkeratotic surface lesions.

The company also has a number of products in its pipeline in various stages of development. Dermadexin for seborrheic dermatitis is currently under regulatory review in the U.S., Canada and Europe; Sitavig, for cold sores, is under regulatory review in Canada; Pruridexin for chronic pruritus is also under regulatory review in the U.S., Canada and Europe; Ozenoxacin for impetigo is under regulatory review in Canada; and CF101 for plaque psoriasis is currently in Phase II/III development. There are other pipeline products as well.

At its fourth-quarter and year-end financial report on March 2, the company indicated total fourth-quarter revenue of $10.7 million, up 10 percent from $9.7 million in the same quarter in 2015.

In its conference call, interim chief executive officer, Stephen Lemieux said, “As we discussed on our third quarter call, the Board has made it a priority to improve the overall profitability of the business. Towards that end, we have been engaged in a thorough review of the business plan and the cost structure. In particular, we have been concentrating on alternatives for the U.S. business with the goal of greatly reducing the losses from that segment.”

In the fourth quarter, Canadian operations grew by 40 percent to $4.1 million, led by Epuris. Total operating expenses, excluding cost of goods sold, were $8.6 million for the quarter.

Cipher Pharmaceuticals is currently trading for $3.

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