Astellas alum Robinson returns to urology as Urovant CEO

Headshot of Jim Robinson
Jim Robinson previously led operations in the Americas for Astellas Pharma, overseeing the commercial launch of two overactive bladder treatments, including Myrbetriq. (Urovant)

Urovant Sciences has snagged itself a new CEO as it preps for the potential launch of its overactive bladder treatment: Jim Robinson, the former chief operating officer of Paragon Biosciences and Alkermes.

Robinson takes over from Keith Katkin, who has led Urovant since September 2017 and who will become an adviser to the company’s board of directors.

“Since the founding of Urovant, our intention has been to evolve to the point where we would identify a highly-talented and capable CEO with the right commercial and biotech leadership experience who could lead Urovant through its next growth phase as a commercial company. With our vibegron new drug application on file with the FDA and the strong financial support of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, now is the perfect time to transition the leadership of Urovant to Jim Robinson,” Katkin said in a statement Monday.

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RELATED: Former Alkermes COO Robinson to head up ops at Paragon Biosciences

Robinson spent about a year as president and COO at Paragon Biosciences. During that time, he sat on Urovant’s board and served as the CEO of Qlarity Imaging, one of Paragon’s portfolio companies. Before that, he led operations in the Americas for Astellas Pharma, overseeing the commercial launch of two overactive bladder treatments, including Myrbetriq of dancing bladder fame.

RELATED: FDA sets Dec. PDUFA date for Urovant rival to Astellas drug

“With proven experience leading the commercialization of urology and overactive bladder treatments inside and outside the United States, we are certain that Jim will help us realize the full potential of the Company’s portfolio for the benefit of patients suffering from urologic disorders,” said Myrtle Potter, CEO of fellow “vant” Sumitovant and chair of Urovant’s board of directors.

Robinson arrives at Urovant weeks after the FDA accepted the company’s application for vibegron as a treatment for patients with overactive bladder who have symptoms of urge urinary incontinence, urgency and urinary frequency. The agency is expected to make a decision by Dec. 26.

RELATED: Urovant slips as generic holds its own against overactive bladder drug in phase

Thursday, the company unveiled top-line data from a phase 3 study showing vibegron met its co-primary endpoints, beating placebo at reducing patients’ strong urge to urinate as well as the number of times patients urinated each day. But skeptics focused on the inability of vibegron to clearly beat tolterodine, a generic treatment for the condition.

Urovant hopes that vibegron could compete with Myrbetriq, which comes with a hypertension warning. And the trial offered some evidence to support those hopes: While Astellas markets Myrbetriq as being effective within eight weeks, Urovant reported statistically significant improvements over placebo at two weeks, the first time point measured.

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