Batycky exits Acorda to head up new biotech

Rick Batycky is taking the CEO role at a private, venture-backed company. (Acorda)

Acorda Therapeutics’ chief technology officer, Rick Batycky Ph.D., is leaving the company next week after four years in the role to head up his own operation.

The identity of the new biotech isn’t being disclosed yet, but is a “private, venture-backed company," says Acorda, which is asking its chief of business operations David Lawrence and its chief medical officer Burkhard Blank, M.D., to take over Batycky’s duties.

The departure comes as Acorda is on the verge of commercializing a drug based on its Arcus pulmonary delivery technology, which has been in development for about two decades and has been Batycky’s main focus.

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The biotech is waiting to hear the FDA’s verdict on its Arcus-based Inbrija (levodopa) product for treating breakthrough symptoms ("off" periods) in Parkinson’s disease, which is due in early October. Previously, Acorda predicted the product could make more than $800 million in U.S. peak sales, and Leerink analysts have given it a 90% chance of approval based on its phase 3 data.

“I am excited that Inbrija is on the threshold of potential FDA approval and availability to people who are challenged by off periods in Parkinson’s disease,” said Batycky, who has also overseen the set-up of Acorda’s manufacturing facility for the drug in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Lawrence is picking up the baton for that, while Blank will take over Batycky's pharma development and technical operations responsibilities.

“I feel confident in taking this next step in my career, knowing that Acorda has a superb team to maximize the value of Inbrija, as well as the Arcus technology," Batycky said.

After a shaky start including an FDA refusal-to-file, the Inbrija project has been a bright spot for Acorda as it tries to bring forward new products to succeed multiple sclerosis therapy Ampyra (dalfampridine), its primary revenue generator which is facing the threat of generic competition.

A few months back, another Parkinson’s program based on oral adenosine A2a receptor antagonist tazodenant was dropped after serious side effects were seen in patients taking the drug in phase 3 testing. And yet another Parkinson’s drug—SYN120—failed to hit the mark in a mid-stage proof-of-concept trial.  

Acorda CEO Ron Cohen, M.D., said: “We thank Rick for his contributions to Acorda and for the vision and commitment that led to the development of Inbrija and the Arcus platform. We wish him great success in his new CEO role.”