Sarepta hires ex-Allergan leader with M&A history as CEO

Employment contract
Sarepta has named Doug Ingram as its CEO

Doug Ingram has become the latest person to take a turn as Sarepta Therapeutics CEO. The former Allergan president is set to replace Ed Kaye, M.D., putting him in charge of turning Sarepta into a successful commercial-stage biotech with a pipeline of promising programs.

Ingram arrives at Sarepta fresh from success in his last stint at the helm of a biotech. As CEO of Chase Pharmaceuticals, Ingram guided the biotech through a phase 2 Alzheimer’s disease trial and on to a takeover by Allergan. Brent Saunders’ Allergan paid $125 million upfront to make Chase its latest acquisition.

The buyout brought Ingram and Saunders around the deal table for the second time. Ingram was president of Allergan when it fought off the interest of Valeant Pharmaceuticals and landed a $66 billion buyout bid from Saunders’ Actavis.

At Allergan, Ingram rose to the role of president after serving his time heading up multiple units including regulatory affairs. The background means Ingram’s experience extends to the commercial side of the drug business. That could prove valuable at Sarepta.

Ingram takes over at the latest in a series of critical junctures for Sarepta. Having overcome doubts about the data to win approval for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) drug Exondys 51, Sarepta now faces the similarly-daunting challenge of getting people to pay for it. If Sarepta is to make a success of its $300,000-plus a year drug, Ingram and his team must persuade payers to cover the therapy without placing severe limitations on its use. 

Sarepta is compensating Ingram handsomely for taking on this challenge. Ingram is set to receive a base salary of $650,000 a year. If Ingram meets the board’s goals, he will receive up to 90% of his base salary as a bonus each year. To further sweeten the deal, Sarepta has thrown in 335,000 shares and given him the option to buy a further 3.3 million shares at $34.65 a piece.

In return, Ingram will try to turn Sarepta from a one-hit wonder into a sustainable neuromuscular disease specialist. This effort got underway following the FDA approval of Exondys 51. In October, Sarepta picked up the European rights to Summit Therapeutics’ DMD ezutromid to complement its own clinical-phase candidates targeting exon 53 and 45. Ingram’s experience at Chase will serve him well in this regard. 

Ingram’s time at the deal table will also come into play if Sarepta has appetite for further checkbook pipeline building. But it is the reading of Ingram’s appointment as a precursor for a bid for Sarepta that has attracted more attention.

“Appointment of Mr. Ingram, given his past experiences at Allergan and Chase, will likely increase takeover speculation among investors that could layer on some M&A premium to the company valuation,” Leerink analyst Joseph Schwartz wrote in a note to investors.

Shares in Sarepta rose 2% in after hours trading following news of the appointment.