NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ophthotech Corporation (NASDAQ:OPHT) announced today the appointment of David T. Shima, Ph.D. as Chief Scientific Officer, effective at the end of September. Dr. Shima joins Ophthotech from Roche, where he most recently served as Global Head and Vice President of Ophthalmology Discovery and Biomarkers. A world-renowned researcher in both academic and industry settings, Dr. Shima has focused his career on angiogenesis, inspired by his work under the mentorship of Dr. Judah Folkman at Boston Children’s Hospital. In the early 1990’s, Dr. Shima contributed to pioneering studies to elucidate the role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) in ocular pathological neovascularization. Dr. Shima held a senior leadership position at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, where he was instrumental in the discovery and development of the first anti-VEGF product to treat wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He played a critical role in validating the potential of anti-Platelet Derived Growth Factor (PDGF) in retinal disease and identified it as a target for development. As one of the world’s leading experts in PDGF research in ophthalmology, Dr. Shima oversaw the early development of Fovista® in his laboratory. Dr. Shima serves as Rothes Professor of Translational Vision Research at the University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology.
Ophthotech also announced the appointment of Henric Bjarke as Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. Mr. Bjarke joins Ophthotech from Alexion, where he successfully managed commercial operations in the U.S. and Canada, launching their lead product Soliris® for aHUS while expanding the efforts for the PNH indication. Most recently, he was responsible for building the global commercial and operations infrastructure to support the commercialization efforts for Alexion’s metabolic disease portfolio. Mr. Bjarke has extensive commercial experience in the retina and ophthalmology market. He served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Eyetech Pharmaceuticals where he worked with the current leadership team at Ophthotech to bring the first anti-VEGF product to market for the treatment of wet AMD. In addition, Mr. Bjarke had several roles with increased responsibilities at Pharmacia and Watson Pharmaceuticals. He managed multiple U.S. and global brands and successfully managed several major launches including XALATAN®, which was the world’s number one brand of glaucoma medication (based on market share) and the first ophthalmic medicine to achieve blockbuster status. Mr. Bjarke will join the Company at the end of August.
“We are very excited to welcome David and Henric to Ophthotech as members of our senior leadership team,” commented David R. Guyer, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Ophthotech. “Their leadership and domain expertise will strongly enhance our team.”
“I am particularly pleased to be reunited with two of our most talented and accomplished senior management colleagues from Eyetech.” Samir Patel, M.D., President and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Ophthotech added, “David brings world-class scientific talent and experience to Ophthotech. David has been responsible for the pioneering contribution in elucidating the key concepts related to the combined inhibition of VEGF and PDGF in ocular angiogenesis. I am confident that his talent and contribution will have a significant and positive impact on the development of our products. Henric is highly accomplished and has deep commercial experience in launching blockbuster drugs in diverse settings. Henric’s knowledge of the retinal space, coupled with his strong analytical skills, will undoubtedly serve us well.”
“Ophthotech is based on compelling state of the art science and driven by the opportunity to improve outcomes for people affected by sight-threatening diseases,” noted Dr. Shima. “My laboratory at Eyetech was one of the first to study PDGF blockade in relation to wet AMD, and it is where we performed the initial development work on Fovista®. It is a privilege to join this talented team and focus our efforts on helping patients with AMD.”
Ophthotech’s Fovista® is the most advanced anti-PDGF agent in development for the treatment of wet AMD and, if approved, is expected to be first to market in this class of therapies for wet AMD.
“Based on my past experience with the leadership team at Ophthotech and my knowledge of the retina marketplace, I am excited to have the opportunity to work with this team again and to build a commercial organization that brings breakthrough medicines to the market,” stated Henric Bjarke.
In his role as Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Bjarke replaces Mr. Todd N. Smith who is leaving the Company. “We want to thank Todd for his contributions and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” said Dr. Guyer.
In addition, Satish C. Tripathi, Ph.D., has joined Ophthotech as Senior Vice President of Global Regulatory Affairs. Dr. Tripathi has over 25 years of combined R&D, business and development and global regulatory strategy experience in development for marketed medical products, biosimilars and generics. Dr. Tripathi joins Ophthotech from InterMune/Roche-Genentech where he was Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs and Clinical Quality Assurance. He also served as a Pharmacology and Toxicology Reviewer at the US Food and Drug Administration, and has held various regulatory affairs positions at Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Baxter Healthcare. Throughout his career, Dr. Tripathi has been directly involved in more than 30 regulatory approvals, including 14 NDAs and more than 20 INDs and has been directly involved in all aspects of drug development and their registration in the US, EU, Japan and Australia and over 100 other countries.
“This is a transformational time for Ophthotech,” stated Dr. Patel. “The addition of Satish’s extensive experience with the U.S. FDA and regulatory agencies around the world will add tremendous value to Fovista®.”
About Ophthotech Corporation
Ophthotech is a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of novel therapeutics to treat back of the eye diseases, with a focus on developing innovative therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ophthotech's most advanced product candidate, Fovista® anti-PDGF therapy, is in Phase 3 clinical trials for use in combination with anti-VEGF therapy that represents the current standard of care for the treatment of wet AMD. Ophthotech's second product candidate, Zimura®, an inhibitor of complement factor C5, is being developed for the treatment of geographic atrophy, a form of dry AMD. For more information, please visit www.ophthotech.com.
Any statements in this press release about Ophthotech's future expectations, plans and prospects constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors. Any forward-looking statements represent Ophthotech's views only as of the date of this press release. Ophthotech anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause its views to change. While Ophthotech may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, Ophthotech specifically disclaims any obligation to do so.