Flex Pharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLKS), a clinical-stage biotechnology company that is developing innovative and proprietary treatments for cramps and spasticity associated with severe neurological diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS) and Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT), today announced that Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D., will transition from his role as Chief Executive Officer, effective July 3, 2017, and remain as Chair of the Board. Flex Pharma’s Board of Directors has appointed William McVicar, Ph.D., currently serving as the Company’s President of Research and Development, as interim CEO.
“I am proud of the progress Flex Pharma has made to date, with the advancements made in the clinical development of FLX-787 for ALS, MS and CMT,” said Dr. Westphal. “Now that Flex is about to initiate two Phase 2 studies in the U.S., this is the right time for me to hand the reins to Bill given his extensive clinical development experience and successful track record of multiple drug approvals. As the largest shareholder of Flex, I am confident that Bill and the Flex management team will continue to advance and deliver this important medicine to patients. I look forward to working with the team as Chair, and to returning to my full-time venture capital role as Partner at Longwood Fund.”
“I am honored to be stepping into the leadership role and personally want to thank Christoph for his immense contributions to the company,” said Dr. McVicar. “Flex is in an excellent position to continue to deliver on our strategy. I look forward to working with Christoph, the Board, and the entire Flex team to accelerate the clinical development of FLX-787, with the objective of addressing the significant unmet medical needs of patients living with ALS, MS and CMT.”
“On behalf of the Board and the Company, I want to thank Christoph for his vision and entrepreneurial leadership since the company’s inception,” said Dr. Rod MacKinnon, Nobel laureate and Flex Pharma Scientific Co-Founder, Board Member, and Scientific Advisory Board Co-Chair. “As co-founder, lead investor and CEO of multiple biotech companies, Christoph has successfully fostered new and important scientific insights and discoveries at Alnylam, Momenta, Acceleron, Sirtris, Verastem and now Flex Pharma. Given Flex’s Phase 2 programs, the time is right to transition leadership to an executive with proven development and regulatory expertise and a record of success.”
Dr. McVicar joined Flex Pharma in April 2017 as President of Research & Development. He brings over 30 years of clinical development experience, most recently serving as Chief Scientific Officer at Inotek. During his tenure at Inotek, he also served as Executive Vice President of Pharmaceutical Development, Chief Scientific Officer, and President. Prior to Inotek, he served as Vice President of Development Operations at Sepracor, where he oversaw the development, FDA review, and approval of multiple NDAs and SNDAs, including BROVANA®, XOPENEX MDI®, and XOPENEX’s pediatric approval, which were each approved in a single 10-month review cycle. Dr. McVicar and Flex Chief Medical Officer Thomas Wessel, M.D., Ph.D. worked together at Sepracor through the U.S. approval of LUNESTA®. Prior to Sepracor, Dr. McVicar held various positions of increasing responsibility at Sandoz, Novartis and Rhone Poulenc Rorer.
About Flex Pharma
Flex Pharma, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company that is developing innovative and proprietary treatments for cramps and spasticity associated with the severe neurological diseases including ALS, MS and Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT). Flex Pharma was founded by National Academy of Science members Rod MacKinnon, M.D. (2003 Nobel Laureate), and Bruce Bean, Ph.D., recognized leaders in the fields of ion channels and neurobiology, along with Chair and CEO Christoph Westphal, M.D., Ph.D.
This press release contains forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things, our anticipated clinical trials. These forward-looking statements are based on management's expectations and assumptions as of the date of this press release and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation: the status, timing, costs, results and interpretation of our clinical studies; the uncertainties inherent in conducting clinical studies; our ability to enroll patients in each of clinical studies on a timely basis; expectations of our ability to make regulatory filings and obtain and maintain regulatory approvals; availability of funding sufficient for our foreseeable and unforeseeable operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements; the inherent uncertainties associated with intellectual property; and other factors discussed in greater detail under the heading "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016 and subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). You are encouraged to read our filings with the SEC, available at www.sec.gov, for a discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties. Any forward-looking statements that we make in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. We assume no obligation to update our forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release.