Press Releases

Press Releases

Akcea Expands Leadership Team in Preparation for First Commercial Launch

September 5, 2017
Expansion of Akcea Leadership Further Strengthens Financial, Clinical and Commercial Foundation

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKCA), an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious cardiometabolic diseases caused by lipid disorders, announced today the appointment of four experienced pharmaceutical and biotech industry leaders to key leadership roles including:

  • Michael MacLean, chief financial officer
  • Mustafa Noor, M.D., FACP, chief development officer
  • Samuel Yonren, MB BS, MRCPI, vice president and head of pharmacovigilance and drug safety
  • Kyle Jenne, U.S. commercial head

"We are excited to welcome Mike, Mustafa, Sam and Kyle to the Akcea team at such a paramount time for the company. Each of these individuals brings a strategic and critical set of skills to the organization as we prepare for the global commercial launch of volanesorsen and continue to advance our pipeline,” said Paula Soteropoulos, president and chief executive officer of Akcea Therapeutics. “As a newly public company approaching the commercialization of our first product, we believe this expansion of our leadership team strengthens our position to achieve success in the near and long term."

Michael MacLean, Chief Financial Officer
“I am thrilled to be joining Akcea at this pivotal moment for the company as they prepare to commercialize volanesorsen globally,” said Michael MacLean, chief financial officer of Akcea Therapeutics. “I look forward to working closely with the high-caliber leadership team to provide financial insight to advance the Company’s key business strategies and drive shareholder value.”

As chief financial officer, Mr. MacLean will be responsible for the strategic leadership of Akcea’s financial imperatives. He comes to Akcea with more than a decade of leadership experience in the life sciences industry across a range of commercial, research and development (R&D), and manufacturing environments globally, including North America and Europe. Mr. MacLean will bring to Akcea a deep financial understanding as the Company develops its global operating models to advance its corporate objectives. He has also built finance teams, scaled up infrastructure and processes for companies in high growth mode, as well as progress fundraising for programs and other initiatives. Most recently, he worked at PureTech Health as inaugural chief financial officer immediately following PureTech’s initial public offering. Previously, Mr. MacLean served as senior vice president of finance and chief accounting officer of Biogen Inc. where he led the Company’s worldwide finance organization, as well as evaluated financial implications of commercial, R&D and other expansion strategies.

Mustafa Noor, M.D., FACP, Chief Development Officer
"Having the ability to work at a company with a late-stage pipeline of four novel drugs is a remarkable opportunity," said Dr. Mustafa Noor, chief development officer of Akcea Therapeutics. "There still remains severe unmet need for therapies tackling largely unaddressed drivers of cardiometabolic disease. I am excited to play a role in Akcea’s dedication to advance its promising drugs targeting these poorly addressed lipid risk factors, which include APOCIII, Lp(a) and ANGPTL3, to patients who need these medicines most.” 

As chief development officer, Dr. Noor will be responsible for the integrated activities of Clinical Development and Development Operations at Akcea. In this role, Dr. Noor will report to Louis O’Dea, chief medical officer and head of regulatory affairs. Dr. Noor brings to Akcea over 20 years of experience in cardiovascular and metabolic clinical research and development in the industry. He joined the industry at Bristol-Myers Squibb and over the next 17 years has advanced his career through GSK and Pfizer Inc., principally in cardiovascular and metabolic medicine. Dr. Noor also worked at Ipsen Group where he was therapeutic area head for endocrinology global clinical development. Most recently, he was chief medical officer at Rugen Therapeutics. Dr. Noor holds a medical degree (M.D.) from the Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA and his Fellowship in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of California, San Francisco, CA. Dr. Noor is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Samuel Yonren, MB BS, MRCPI, Vice President and Head of Pharmacovigilance and Drug Safety
As vice president and head of pharmacovigilance and drug safety, Dr. Yonren will serve as the global safety leader responsible for all medical aspects of safety assessment and safety risk management strategy across Akcea‘s pipeline. In this role, Dr. Yonren will report to Louis O’Dea, chief medical officer and head of regulatory affairs. Dr. Yonren brings to Akcea expertise in data systems that support effective pharmacovigilance and a depth of leadership experience in cardiometabolic clinical development and  postmarketing safety. After a number of years of training and practice in internal medicine and infectious diseases at academic centers including New York University, Dr. Yonren came to industry as a clinical research physician at Pfizer Inc. in the U.K. and soon afterwards moved into drug safety at GSK. He came to the U.S. as senior director of safety at Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. and gathered further years of experience in safety and pharmacovigilance at Medimmune, Ovation Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Alcon/Novartis Pharma AG and most recently Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, where, as head of drug safety, he supervised safety programs for lomitapide and metreleptin. Dr. Yonren holds a medical degree (MB BS) from the University of Lagos and a Membership in the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Ireland (MRCPI) in Internal Medicine.

Kyle Jenne,U.S. Commercial Head
As U.S. commercial head, Mr. Jenne will be responsible for building and leading Akcea’s customer-facing organization in the U.S., including all teams that will directly engage with U.S. health care providers (HCPs), patients and payers to support improved diagnosis and treatment of patients with familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS). In his role, Mr. Jenne will report to Molly Harper, vice president, global commercial development. Mr. Jenne brings to Akcea more than 18 years of commercial leadership experience in the industry, including the build-out and leadership of organizations in therapeutic areas including cardiovascular and lipid-driven diseases, rare diseases, and oncology. He previously held sales and marketing leadership roles at Acorda Therapeutics and Pfizer Inc, where he worked with commercial teams on the design, development, and implementation of patient support programs and payer strategy in the U.S. for rare disease products. Most recently, he served as national sales director for neurology in autoimmune and rare diseases at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals

ABOUT AKCEA THERAPEUTICS
Akcea Therapeutics, an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious cardiometabolic diseases caused by lipid disorders. Akcea is advancing a mature pipeline of four novel drugs with the potential to treat multiple diseases, including volanesorsen, AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx, AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx and AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx. All four drugs were discovered and are being co-developed by Ionis, a leader in antisense therapeutics, based on Ionis’ proprietary antisense technology. The most advanced drug in its pipeline, volanesorsen, is under regulatory review in the U.S. and EU for the treatment of familial chylomicronemia syndrome, or FCS, and is currently in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of familial partial lipodystrophy, or FPL. Akcea is building the infrastructure to commercialize its drugs globally with a focus on lipid specialists as the primary call point. Akcea is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Additional information about Akcea is available at www.akceatx.com.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENT
This press release includes forward-looking statements regarding the business of Akcea Therapeutics, Inc. and the therapeutic and commercial potential of volanesorsen and other products in development. Any statement describing Akcea’s goals, expectations, financial or other projections, intentions or beliefs is a forward-looking statement and should be considered an at-risk statement. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, particularly those inherent in the process of discovering, developing and commercializing drugs that are safe and effective for use as human therapeutics, and in the endeavor of building a business around such drugs. Akcea’s forward-looking statements also involve assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove correct, could cause its results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Although Akcea’s forward-looking statements reflect the good faith judgment of its management, these statements are based only on facts and factors currently known by Akcea. As a result, you are cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These and other risks concerning Akcea’s programs are described in additional detail in its final prospectus for its initial public offering and its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q, which are on file with the SEC.

In this press release, unless the context requires otherwise, “Akcea,” “Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” refers to Akcea Therapeutics.

Akcea Therapeutics™ is a trademark of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ionis Pharmaceuticals™ is a trademark of Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Media and Investor Contact:
D. Wade Walke, Ph.D.
Vice President, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations
760-603-2741

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