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SkyePharma: CEO departure not linked to European Flutiform delays

By Gareth MacDonald+, 01-Feb-2012

Related topics: Delivery technologies, Ingredients

The resignation of CEO Axel Muller was a mutual decision and not linked to delayed efforts to win European approval for the asthma drug Flutiform says delivery tech firm SkyePharma.

Muller – who was appointed CEO in August 2010 – decided to step down yesterday just weeks after Flutiform was referred to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for review after UK regulators failed to agree whether or not to approve the drug.

However, SkyePharma CFO Peter Grant - who will take over as CEO - told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that Muller left “to pursue other interests” and that his departure “is not related to the delay in Flutiform, which we remain confident about.”

Singer Capital Markets analyst Shawn Manning – who tracks SkyePharma - agreed with this analysis.

He told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that although Muller played a key role in the UK firm's recent reorganisation – namely its deal with Aenova and recently announced job cuts – he may not have been the ideal CEO long term.

Axel successfully implemented cost saving initiatives but came from a different background and may not have been a perfect fit for SkyePharma.”

Manning also welcomed the appointment of Grant as SkyePharma chief, describing him as the ideal candidate to lead the firm at an interesting time in its development.

Similar comments were made by Edison Investment research, who said: “SkyePharma’s newly appointed CEO, the former finance chief Peter Grant, should be well placed to negotiate the refinancing of the group’s £83m of convertible bonds.

“This, together with successfully navigating an arbitration process to secure EU approval of Flutiform, is central to the near-term investment case. Until further details on the timelines emerge, we continue to assume Flutiform launch by the end of 2012.”

Edison also predicted in the investment note that Exparel – a topical anaesthetic being developed by Pacira Pharmaceuticals using SkyePharma’s topical delivery technology, will be launched in the US in the next few months.