– UK, London – Verona Pharma plc (AIM: VRP.L), the drug development company focused on first-in-class medicines to treat respiratory diseases, today announces the appointment of Ken Cunningham, MD and Anders Ullman, MD, PhD, as Non-Executive Directors of the Company with effect from 10 September 2015. Dr Cunningham will replace Professor Jones as the Non-Executive Director appointed by the Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund under the Subscription and Shareholders Agreement entered into in March 2014 with the Company. Mr Stuart Bottomley and Ms Claire Poll will also retire from the Board, having been Directors of Verona Pharma since 2006.
Dr Ken Cunningham, aged 62, has over 25 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry including leadership roles at several companies focused on developing respiratory medicines. He is currently Non-Executive Chairman of Abzena plc (AIM: ABZA) and Non-Executive Director of Xention Pharma Ltd and was Non-Executive Chairman of Prosonix Ltd ahead of its recent sale to Circassia for £100m in June 2015. Between 2008 and 2010 Dr Cunningham was at SkyePharma plc, initially as Chief Operating Officer and subsequently as Chief Executive Officer where he was deeply involved in the late stage development of flutiform® for asthma. Between 2002 and 2005 he was Chief Executive Officer of Arakis Ltd, a drug re-profiling company which was subsequently sold to Sosei (TSE: 4565) for £107m. The lead compound was then licensed to Novartis and following further development is currently under regulatory review by the FDA and is available in Europe as an orally inhaled drug for COPD under the name Seebri® and Ultibro®. Prior to this, Dr Cunningham was Vice-President European Affairs at Alza Corporation and Vice-President Clinical Development at Sequus Inc. Earlier in his career, he held a variety of clinical development and commercial strategy roles at GlaxoWellcome plc and Warner-Lambert. Dr Cunningham holds a Medical Degree from St Mary’s, Imperial College, London University.
Dr Anders Ullman, aged 59, is an experienced pharmaceutical executive who has worked at Board and Senior Management level at a number of companies internationally. He has extensive experience of product development and life cycle management and has been involved in successful product approvals including two with the FDA and one with the EMA. From 2013 to 2014, Dr Ullman was Head of R&D at Baxter Biosciences, based in Vienna, Austria. From 2007 to 2013 he was EVP Head of R&D at Nycomed Pharma Pvt Limited where he led the development and approval of Daxas, the PDE4 inhibitor used to prevent COPD exacerbations. Following the sale of Nycomed to Takeda in 2011, he led the R&D transition team at Takeda Pharmaceuticals International GmbH. Prior to his time at Nycomed, Dr Ullman was Head of R&D at Biovitrum AB and EVP Global Product Development at Bayer Healthcare while earlier in his career he held a number of roles of increasing responsibility in AstraZeneca exiting as VP Global Clinical Function.
Ms Claire Poll, Executive Director, and Mr Stuart Bottomley and Professor Trevor Jones, both Non-Executive Directors, will retire from the Verona Pharma Board after having served since 2006. Ms Poll will continue to provide legal and corporate services to the Company.
Dr David Ebsworth, Non-Executive Chairman of Verona Pharma commented, “The Board would like to thank Claire, Stuart and Trevor for their many years of hard work and support. Their long tenure is testament to the value of their advice and their numerous contributions on many fronts. They have all been instrumental in nurturing the Company as it progressed its pipeline into the clinic. We warmly wish them the very best for the future.
“We are delighted to welcome to the Board of Verona Pharma Dr Anders Ullman and Dr Ken Cunningham. Both are respected industry leaders with invaluable expertise in the field of respiratory drug development. We look forward to working with them as we continue with the focused clinical development of our lead pipeline asset RPL554, a PDE3/4 inhibitor, as a first-in-class orally inhaled drug for the treatment of a number of important unmet medical needs in respiratory disease.”
Dr Cunningham will also be appointed as Chairman of the Audit Committee and as a member of the Remuneration Committee and the Corporate Governance and Nominations Committees. Dr Ullman will be appointed as a member of the Audit Committee, the Remuneration Committee and the Corporate Governance and Nominations Committee. Mr Bottomley will retire from the Audit, Remuneration and Corporate Governance and Nominations Committees and Ms Poll will retire from the Audit Committee.
About Verona Pharma plc
Verona Pharma plc is a UK-based clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of innovative prescription medicines to treat respiratory diseases with significant unmet medical needs, such as COPD, asthma and cystic fibrosis. Verona Pharma’s lead drug, RPL554, is a first-in-class drug currently in Phase II trials as a nebulised treatment for acute exacerbations of COPD in the hospital setting. The drug is a dual phosphodiesterase (PDE) 3/4 inhibitor and therefore has both bronchodilator and anti-inflammatory effects, which are essential to the improvement of patients with COPD and asthma. Verona Pharma is also building a broader franchise around RPL554 to maximise its value, both to patients and to investors. This includes the very significant markets for COPD and asthma maintenance therapy. The Company is also exploring the potential of the drug in different diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, where it is in pre-clinical testing and has recently received a Venture and Innovation Award from the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
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