Pfizer CNS spinout Cerevel brings on new CMO to launch phase 3 work in Parkinson’s disease

Cerevel’s lead programs include a dopamine D1/5PA agonist being studied in Parkinson’s, set to enter phase 3 this year. (Pixabay)

Pfizer’s neuroscience spinoff, Cerevel Therapeutics, is bringing on Otsuka’s Raymond Sanchez, M.D., to serve as its new chief medical officer and take forward development of its late-stage programs for Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy into phase 3.

The Boston-area Cerevel was born out of Pfizer’s decision to dispossess itself of its internal CNS-focused programs, and launched last October with $350 million in funding from Bain Capital and other affiliates.

In return for a 25% stake in the standalone company, Pfizer provided a series of clinical and preclinical assets, including Cerevel’s lead programs: a dopamine D1/5PA agonist being studied in Parkinson’s, set to enter phase 3 this year, as well as a GABA A positive modulator for epilepsy.

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Cerevel’s other assets include a an M4 allosteric modulator for a psychosis-related indication, and others aimed at Parkinson’s, addiction, psychosis and neuroinflammation.

RELATED: Backed by Bain, Pfizer loads prime CNS assets into new biotech

During his 11 years at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development and Commercialization, Sanchez helped oversee its CNS, oncology and cardio-renal portfolios, most recently as senior VP of global clinical development, and also served as CMO of its Avanir Pharmaceuticals subsidiary.

“Dr. Sanchez has a proven track record overseeing the successful clinical development of several important CNS therapies such as Rexulti and Abilify that resulted in global regulatory approvals in multiple indications and formulations for these drugs,” said Tony Coles, M.D., Cerevel’s executive chairman.

RELATED: Pfizer axing neuroscience jobs, but seeks new VC fund

At Otsuka, Sanchez also helped develop a CNS clinical development fellowship for psychiatric medical fellows, as well as a specialty team focused on Alzheimer’s dementia research. Before that, he held roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb and Purdue Pharma.

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