Aerie Pharmaceuticals hires former Allergan, Alcon exec to help lead clinical, medical affairs

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Former Allergan executive Michelle Senchyna, Ph.D., joins Aerie amid changes to the biotech's medical affairs team. (Allergan)

Michelle Senchyna, Ph.D., has been named as the new vice president for clinical development and medical affairs at eye disorder biotech Aerie Pharmaceuticals.

Senchyna will “lead and direct the clinical development and medical affairs strategy for the company,” it said in a statement, and comes off a stint as executive director of ophthalmology at Allergan, having also worked at Alcon and Panoptica.

The change comes at a time when Aerie is working to get its ophthalmology franchise off the ground. The FDA approved Rocklatan in open-angle glaucoma last March, a little more than one year after it greenlighted Aerie’s first glaucoma drug, Rhopressa. However, sales have fallen short of expectations, leading Aerie to lower its 2019 revenue guidance by more than one-third last year.

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Aerie’s efforts to improve its commercial performance are advancing in parallel with clinical trials of other assets. A sustained-release steroid, AR-1105, is already in the clinic, and an inhibitor of Rho kinase and protein kinase C is nearing the start of human testing.

Just last August, Aerie had named ex-Abbott Labs exec Luis Vargas as its latest medical director for medical affairs. The appointment put Vargas in charge of medical affairs organizational planning and operational matters at the eye disease company.

Vargas reported to Welyn Bui, vice president for global medical affairs at the biotech, and formed part of a new-look medical affairs team. Allergan veteran John Maltman joined Aerie as VP of medical affairs late in 2017 but lasted little more than a year at the company. With Maltman returning to Allergan, Aerie moved Bui from national director of medical affairs to the vacant VP position.

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