February 5, 2019

Melinta continues C-suite shakeup in 'repositioning' plan

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Melinta Therapeutics laid off most of its R&D team based at 300 George St. in New Haven in November.

Drugmaker Melinta Therapeutics Inc., which laid off most of its New Haven R&D team last November and has struggled with the launch of its new antibiotic Baxdela, on Monday announced a shakeup in its senior leadership team.

The company said it has tapped former Pfizer executive Timothy Simon as its new chief commercial officer. Simon previously led Pfizer's RCC, Lung and Immuno-Oncology franchise and will be charged with leading the company's commercial strategy for its drug portfolio, the company said.

It also elevated Ryan Lococo, who joined the company last May as vice president of corporate development and strategy, to chief business officer. He is in charge of corporate and business development, information technology, manufacturing and technical operations as well as public relations.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Sanfilippo, vice president, corporate counsel since January 2018, was promoted to general counsel. She will be responsible for legal services and advising senior leadership on strategic matters, the company said.

The management changes come as Melinta shifts its focus away from R&D in favor of product launches and commercialization efforts, and amid a series of cost-cutting measures it says will save between $50 million and $70 million this year.

CEO John H. Johnson said in a corporate update Monday that the company has made "significant progress" in recent months on repositioning initiatives aimed at accelerating sales and reducing costs.

The company said it expects to report net product sales of approximately $14 million for the fourth quarter and $46 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.

"While there is more work to be done, we believe that we have the right team and strategy in place to continue delivering anti-infective solutions to patients and to drive growth and value creation for shareholders," he said, in a statement.

The company laid off 22 of 25 employees in its New Haven office late last year as well as an unspecified number of workers at its North Carolina, Illinois and New Jersey locations, citing headwinds in the antibiotics industry.

The layoffs followed a third-quarter earnings report showing higher costs and lower-than-expected sales of its antibiotics, including its newly approved drug Baxdela, which treats serious skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Melinta also acquired three antibiotics -- Minocin, Orbactiv and Vabomere -- from New Jersey-based The Medicines Co. in a $270 million deal last year.

Johnson, who had been serving as interim CEO since the abrupt departure of Dan Wechsler last fall, agreed in December to remain in the position permanently.

The company did not immediately respond Tuesday to an emailed question about the status of the New Haven office, but in a news release it continued to list New Haven as its corporate headquarters.

A company spokeswoman said in November that no final decision about the New Haven location had been made.

Contact Natalie Missakian at news@newhavenbiz.com

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