Urovant Sciences is bringing on rival Allergan’s Cornelia Haag-Molkenteller as its chief medical officer and establishing a new U.S. headquarters in California. The move comes shortly after launching a phase 3 trial for its sole drug candidate.
Haag-Molkenteller recently served as Allergan’s VP and head of global clinical development for women’s health, internal medicine, anti-infectives and urology, where she led clinical development of onabotulinumtoxinA for overactive bladder. Prior to joining Allergan all the way back in 2007, she led urologic clinical development at Schwarz Biosciences, which has since been acquired by UCB.
This is a coup for Urovant—a urology biotech of the "Vant" family of companies under parent Roivant that spun out last year—given that it is looking to rival Allergan with vibegron, an old Merck drug gunning for a share of the overactive bladder market. Getting one of its key executives may just help with that mission, and Haag-Molkenteller follows a string of other Big Pharma veterans to be lured into the Vant family by Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy.
Urovant’s study of vibegron (RVT-901), an oral β3-adrenergic agonist, is currently recruiting patients with overactive bladder. The 12-week study plans to enroll 1,400 patients at over 200 sites, and will compare the drug to tolterodine tartrate ER and placebo, measuring changes in the number of urinary incontinence episodes. It’s expected to be completed by March 2019.
Meanwhile, its new headquarters is just down the street from the University of California Irvine, within the university’s research park.
“As we continue to enroll patients with overactive bladder in our pivotal phase 3 trial for vibegron, EMPOWUR, it is critical that we grow our team with the best talent in the industry to simultaneously advance our clinical programs and prepare for the eventual commercialization of our products,” said Urovant CEO Keith Katkin, former CEO of Avanir Pharmaceuticals.
Urovant also fleshed out its C-suite with a few other former Allergan and Avanir executives, including:
- CCO Michael McFadden, former senior VP at Avanir.
- General counsel Bryan Smith, who previously served as chief counsel to Allergan’s urology and other business units.
- Chief accounting Ooficer Christine Ocampo, who was VP of finance at Avanir and later CFO of Novus Therapeutics.
- Former Allergan VP Nori Ebersole, as chief human resources officer.