Verona Pharma plc (NASDAQ: VRNA) announces that David Zaccardelli, Pharm. D., has been appointed President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with effect from February 1, 2020. Dr. Zaccardelli has also joined the board of Verona Pharma. Dr. Zaccardelli brings substantial specialty pharmaceutical leadership and operational expertise, including most notably, serving as President and CEO of Dova Pharmaceuticals, Inc. until its acquisition by Swedish Orphan Biovitrum AB (Sobi) in November 2019. Previously, Dr. Zaccardelli held several senior management roles including Chief Operating Officer (COO) at United Therapeutics Corporation. Jan-Anders Karlsson, Ph.D., Verona Pharma's previous CEO, is retiring following 8 years of dedicated service to the Company to pursue non-executive roles and he has agreed to provide support to ensure an effective transition.
In addition, Mark W. Hahn, a seasoned pharmaceutical finance executive, will join Verona Pharma as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), a non-board position, with effect from March 1, 2020. Mr. Hahn previously served as the CFO of Dova Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Cempra, Inc. and raised over $600 million to support product development and commercialization activities of those companies. Piers Morgan will continue to serve as CFO of Verona Pharma through February 28, 2020 to provide an efficient transition and complete required financial reporting.
Both Dr. Zaccardelli and Mr. Hahn will be based in North Carolina in the US, where the majority of the Company's clinical team are located, to lead the development and commercialization of ensifentrine for respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ("COPD"), asthma and cystic fibrosis (CF).
"We are very pleased to have both Dr. Zaccardelli and Mr. Hahn join Verona Pharma. They are highly experienced leaders with a proven track record of working together to create significant value for shareholders. We believe we have a strong team in place to lead Verona Pharma into its next phase of growth. The team will focus on the US and worldwide opportunities to help COPD patients in need of additional treatment," said Dr. David Ebsworth, Chairman of Verona Pharma. "I thank Dr. Karlsson for his leadership in building Verona Pharma into a strong company with a Phase 3 program for ensifentrine expected to begin in 3Q 2020, and also Mr. Morgan for his support through the US IPO process. Together, Dr. Karlsson and Mr. Morgan successfully raised significant capital, listed Verona Pharma on Nasdaq and used these funds to generate data supporting the strong efficacy and safety profile of ensifentrine in COPD. I am pleased they will continue to support the transition to ensure the further success of Verona Pharma."
Dr. Zaccardelli, President and CEO, commented: "I strongly believe it is a transformational time to join Verona Pharma to ensure the full potential of ensifentrine, a first-in-class, inhaled, dual inhibitor of the phosphodiesterase 3 (PDE3) and phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) enzymes for the treatment of respiratory diseases including COPD, asthma and CF. In addition, the recently reported Phase 2 clinical trial results of ensifentrine added to inhaled tiotropium, a long acting anti-muscarinic ("LAMA") commonly used to treat patients with COPD, underscores its potential for a significant impact on the treatment for patients with COPD. Verona Pharma will continue to focus on developing new treatments for patients with unmet medical need."
Dr. Zaccardelli continued, "I am also excited Mark Hahn is joining Verona as CFO as part of the executive leadership team. He has extensive experience in both finance and public pharmaceutical companies having raised more than $600 million to support novel product development at previous companies. In addition, we have effectively collaborated together in the leadership of previous companies including Dova resulting in the acquisition by Sobi."
Previously, Dr. Zaccardelli served as President and CEO of Dova Pharmaceuticals from December 2018 until its acquisition by Sobi in November 2019. Dr. Zaccardelli was the Acting CEO of Cempra, Inc. from December 2016 until the company's merger with Melinta Therapeutics, Inc. in November 2017. From 2004 until 2016, Dr. Zaccardelli served in several senior management roles at United Therapeutics Corporation, including COO, Chief Manufacturing Officer and Executive Vice President, Pharmaceutical Development and Operations. Prior to joining United Therapeutics, Dr. Zaccardelli founded and led a start-up company focused on contract pharmaceutical development services, from 1997 through 2003. From 1988 to 1996, Dr. Zaccardelli worked at Burroughs Wellcome & Co. and Glaxo Wellcome, Inc. in a variety of clinical research positions. He also served as Director of Clinical and Scientific Affairs for Bausch & Lomb Pharmaceuticals from 1996 to 1997.