Ipsen CEO Resigns to Take Over Gene Therapy Company FerGene

Resignation

In what could only be a surprise move, David Meek resigned his role as chief executive officer of France-based Ipsen to take over the helm of Ferring Pharmaceuticals spinout FerGene, a gene therapy company that launched only last month.

Meek will depart from Ipsen on Dec. 31. He leaves the company days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration placed a partial clinical hold on palovarotene, its investigational treatment for fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) and multiple osteochondromas (MO) due to some safety concerns in pediatric patients. He will take over FerGene on Jan. 14.

FerGene launched last month with a $570 million investment from Ferring and Blackstone Life Sciences. About a week after the company spun out, it announced positive Phase III results for a gene therapy treatment aimed at high-grade, Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) unresponsive non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).

Meek will take over the reins of FerGene on Jan. 14 and his primary focus will be taking the gene therapy treatment nadofaragene firadenovec (rAd-IFN/Syn3) through the regulatory hurdles in hopes of approval. FerGene was established in part to commercialize the gene therapy that was developed by specialist gene therapy company FKD Therapies Oy, which is based in Finland.

“I’m honored to lead FerGene in this exciting role and spearhead the effort to develop and commercialize this critical and innovative therapy and advance its clinical development. We will build a committed, patient-centric team and with the support from Ferring and Blackstone Life Sciences, I am confident we can efficiently and effectively bring this life-changing therapy to patients in need,” Meek said in a statement issued by FerGene this morning.

Meek took over the helm of Ipsen in 2016 following a two-year tenure as president of oncology at Baxalta. Prior to that, he served as chief commercial officer at Endocyte and also held various leadership roles at Novartis. He began his career in 1989 at Johnson & Johnson.

Of his time at Ipsen, Meek called it an honor to serve as CEO and added he was proud of the accomplishments the company achieved. Under his leadership, the company expanded through a series of external deals and also built out the company’s global footprint by establishing toeholds in the United States and China. One of those external deals Meek oversaw was the company’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Canada-based Clementia, the company that developed palovarotene. Under his leadership, Ipsen also saw regulatory approval of Dysport, a treatment for upper and lower limb spasticity in children. The company also won approval for a new pre-filled syringe for Somatuline Depot (lanreotide) for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable, well- or moderately-differentiated, locally advanced or metastatic gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Ipsen will begin to search for a new CEO. In the meantime, Chief Financial Officer Aymeric Le Chatelier will serve as interim CEO, the company said.

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