Aurinia Pharma names Peter Greenleaf as CEO; George Milne Jr. as chairman

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Aurinia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AUPH; TSX:AUP) appointed Peter Greenleaf as CEO, and George Milne Jr. as chairman of the board.

Dr. Richard Glickman, who previously announced his plans to retire, will step down as chairman and CEO of Aurinia concurrent with Mr. Greenleaf’s appointment on April 29, but will remain an advisor to Aurinia for 12 months.

With more than 20 years of experience leading pharmaceutical and biotech firms, Mr. Greenleaf most recently served as CEO of Cerecor, a leading U.S. pediatric orphan and rare disease pharmaceutical company. Prior to that, he was chairman and CEO of Sucampo Pharmaceuticals and president of MedImmune, the biologics arm of AstraZeneca.

“As a seasoned leader in the pharmaceutical industry, Peter’s extensive knowledge of clinical and overall operations, along with business development and commercialization expertise, are ideally aligned with the next stages of growth for voclosporin and Aurinia,” Dr. Milne said in a statement.

Dr. Glickman said that consistent with the succession planning set into motion last November, “I am confident that Peter is the correct individual to lead Aurinia through the next set of value inflection points, including the upcoming AURORA Phase 3 results, preparing for the potential launch of voclosporin, and expansion of the VOS dry eye syndrome program.”

Mackie Research analyst, André Uddin, reiterated his “speculative buy” rating for Aurinia and $10 price target. The stock closed at $6.56 on April 11.

“We believe Mr. Greenleaf’s commercial background should be valuable for Aurinia [if] voclosporin is approved and launched in the U.S.,” Mr. Uddin said. “His experience in orphan drug development should also benefit the development of voclosporin for treating focal segmental glomerulosclerosis,” a cause of nephrotic syndrome in children and adolescents, as well as a leading cause of kidney failure in adults.

Results of the AURORA trial are expected in the fourth quarter of 2019, leading to a rolling NDA submission in the second quarter of 2020. The FDA’s decision on voclosporin for lupus nephritis is expected in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Jennifer Poland