Arena Pharma's R&D lead quits 6 months into the job, replaced by Alder CMO


In the summer, Arena Pharmaceuticals hired Chris Cabell, M.D., as its chief medical officer, senior vice president and head of R&D, but now he’s out the door.

Cabell, who was hired in June to try to help Arena set a new R&D path away from its ill-fated attempts in obesity, has retired and resigned, according to the company.

RELATED: Eisai will pull obesity drug Belviq off U.S. shelves after FDA flags cancer risks

He will step down today and remain an “adviser” to the company. Replacing Cabell is Paul Streck, M.D., who takes over as CMO along with the slightly different role of SVP, clinical development.

He joins the biotech from Alder BioPharmaceuticals, bought out by Lundbeck a year ago, and worked on drugs including migraine treatment Vyepti. He’s also served stints at Insmed as well as Amgen, Shire and GlaxoSmithKline.

Cabell leaves Arena just a few weeks after it posted mixed phase 2 results for its eczema hopeful etrasimod. The drug missed its primary endpoint, not hitting a statistical difference between either of the two dose levels of etrasimod compared to a placebo after 12 weeks of treatment.

Arena, however, dug down into the data and saw some glimmers of hope, leading it to push on into a phase 3. The initial data drop saw its shares fall 22%, however. It had seen its shares consistently at the $87 mark in early November, until the etrasimod data brought this down to the mid-60s.

In its pipeline, Arena is currently working on olorinab—a cannabinoid receptor type 2 agonist—in bowel disorders, and late-stage IP receptor agonist ralinepag for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Etrasimod, an S1P receptor modulator, is also in the works for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and primary biliary cholangitis. Arena has previously said it thinks it can rival Bristol Myers Squibb's Celgene-acquired ozanimod, which also had a rocky path to approval this year.

RELATED: Bristol Myers nabs long-sought FDA nod for Celgene's MS drug ozanimod, but pandemic delays launch

Arena has endured a tough few years that included massive layoffs, companywide restructuring and an obliterated stock price, but is still pushing on to try and convert its pipeline into revenue-generating products.

“Having Dr. Streck’s deep executive experience as a physician in successful clinical development and medical affairs leadership roles puts Arena in a stronger position as we move toward completing late-stage clinical development into regulatory submission and pre-commercial planning,” said Amit Munshi, Arena's president and CEO.

"His proven global leadership roles across therapeutic indications provides for seamless integration for the Company’s current and future clinical and regulatory activities. On behalf of Arena’s Board of Directors and management team, we would like to thank Chris for his ability to step into a critical role during an important time at our company. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”