New CEO navigates CombinatoRx's revolving door

Now that CombinatoRx has wrapped its intriguing merger deal with Canada's Neuromed, it's making a change at the top. Out: Interim President and CEO Robert Forrester, who's off in pursuit of "other opportunities," according to the release. In: Board member Mark Corrigan, who takes the helm. Corrigan is the former chief of R&D at Sepracor. Christopher Gallen, the former chief executive of Neuromed, was tapped as the EVP of research and development in the executive shuffle.

Alexis Borisy was the CEO at CombinatoRx back in late 2008, when its lead drug failed a key trial and the board installed a revolving door in the CEO's office. That failure wiped out 83 percent of the company's share price and eventually forced the developer to lay off 75 percent of its staff. It also launched the developer down the path to a merger with Neuromed in a bid to restructure and survive.

Now the main focus is on Exalgo, a late-stage pain drug that Neuromed brought to the party. In the original merger announcement, both CombinatorRx and Neuromed had a shot at a majority stake in the new company, depending on Exalgo's fate at the FDA. An approval ahead of October 1 gives Neuromed a majority stake. But any decision after that would leave CombinatoRx investors on top.

Corrigan has a lot riding on Exalgo as well. Xconomy took a look at the regulatory filing and found that the new CEO gets base pay of $450,000 a year and a bonus up to half of that amount. An Exalgo approval ahead of October 1 would give him restricted shares worth up to three percent of the company's market capitalization. Exalgo has a February 22, 2010 PDUFA review date with the FDA.

- here's the press release
- check out the brief from Xconomy