Beijing’s CANbridge brings on Pfizer rare disease leader as CMO to help bring new drugs to China

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CANbridge plans to develop and commercialize Puma's Nerlynx and Apogenix's APG101 as cancer treatments in China. (iStock)

Beijing’s CANbridge Life Sciences, which develops Western drug candidates in China and Asia, brought on Pfizer’s May Orfali, M.D., to be its new chief medical officer.

Orfali, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, most recently served as the Big Biotech’s executive director of global product development in rare diseases, covering hematology, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, endocrinology, gene therapy and TTR-amyloidosis.

Before that, she was a rare disease lead for Pfizer’s global innovative pharmaceutical business unit, a global medical asset lead in hematology, and a senior director of clinical R&D in medical oncology. She replaces Mark Goldberg, M.D., who has served as acting CMO since 2015, and will stay on as an advisor.

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“We are delighted that Dr. Orfali has chosen to join CANbridge as we become a fully-commercial biopharmaceutical company with a robust clinical trial program and pipeline,” said CANbridge’s chairman and CEO, James Xue, Ph.D.

Prior to Pfizer, Orfali held clinical leadership positions at Wyeth Pharmaceutical, Artisan Pharma, Aeris Therapeutics, Cubist Pharmaceuticals and Boston Scientific.

“Her broad international experience, and proven track record of clinical trial success in multiple indications, will be key as CANbridge continues to advance our world-class programs in oncology and orphan-designated diseases, particularly in those that are severely underserved in China and Asia,” Xue said in a statement.

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In February, CANbridge signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Puma Biotechnology to commercialize Nerlynx (neratinib) in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

Nerlynx tablets were approved by the FDA in July 2017 for extended adjuvant treatment in HER2-positive breast cancer following Herceptin-based therapy, and CANbridge is developing the drug as CAN030 in HER2-positive breast and gastric cancers.

CANbridge also maintains a license with Apogenix to develop and commercialize its immuno-oncology therapy APG101, retitled as CAN008, for glioblastoma multiforme. CANbridge expects to begin a phase 2/3 trial later this year.

In addition, CANbridge has a worldwide license, outside of North America, to AVEO Oncology’s clinical-stage ErbB3 inhibitor antibody candidate AV203, named CAN017—and an agreement with EUSA Pharma to commercialize Caphosol, approved in China for oral mucositis caused by cancer treatments.