Radius CEO Høiland hands reins to ex-Elan boss Martin

Radius brought Jesper Høiland on in July 2017 to take over from Bob Ward, who guided the company through its IPO and the journey of Tymlos, its osteoporosis drug, to approval. (Pixabay)

Radius Health CEO Jesper Høiland is stepping down after nearly three years in the post. Taking his place will be Kelly Martin, the banker-turned-biopharma-chief who led Elan Pharmaceuticals for more than 12 years.

Høiland’s departure is spurred by a desire to return to his native Denmark after 25 years abroad, as Radius chief and in various roles at Novo Nordisk, including as president of the Danish drugmaker’s U.S. business.

Radius brought him on in July 2017 to take over from Bob Ward, who guided the company through its IPO and the journey of Tymlos, its osteoporosis drug, to approval. He was the right man for the job, then-Chairman Kurt Graves said at the time, with “true global experience” and multiple drug launches under his belt.

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“[Høiland’s] leadership helped establish TYMLOS as the leading anabolic therapy in the US osteoporosis market in a little over two years,” said Radius Chairman Owen Hughes in a statement Tuesday. “His commercial expertise and operational acumen have been instrumental in creating a solid base for long-term growth, inclusive of three ongoing pivotal trials and a path to profitability.” 

As it brought Tymlos to market, the osteoporosis and endocrine specialist plotted an expansion into cancer, hiring oncology veteran Charles Morris as its chief medical officer in September 2018. At the time, Radius was testing its breast cancer med elacestrant in phase 1 and 1b trials. But the foray into oncology ended a year later, when—with elacestrant in phase 3—the company decided its cancer assets would be better off at an “oncology focused company with strong capabilities in this area.”

“Radius does not plan to initiate further clinical development for elacestrant or RAD140 [its phase 1 nonsteroidal selective androgen receptor modulator] beyond the ongoing Emerald [phase 3] study,” the company said at the time.

Martin inherits a company with two versions of a new osteoporosis drug, both of which are in phase 3. One formulation, injected just under the skin, is being tested in men with osteoporosis, while the second, delivered through a skin patch, is in a study of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.