PRESS RELEASE: BETHLEHEM, Pa. (11/15/2013) – Voltarra Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced the appointment of Richard P. Becker, Jr. as Chief Executive Officer, bringing 20 years of pharmaceutical leadership experience to the newly formed Lehigh Valley company. Voltarra features a portfolio of early-stage small molecules and late-stage novel clinical compounds for rheumatology, the central nervous system, oncology and immunology, which the company obtained through the acquisitions of IMC Biotechnology and Renascense Pharmaceuticals.
Becker has successfully led large, medium and entrepreneurial companies to substantial growth in fiercely competitive markets. During his career, Becker has assumed progressive commercial leadership roles for Alcon, Merck, Novartis, OSI Pharmaceuticals, Bayer and BASF. He has launched six products, commercially developed three others, built organizations and obtained investor financing as a senior executive. Becker received a Masters of Business Administration from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Sciences.
In Philadelphia on Nov. 13, Becker introduced Voltarra Pharmaceuticals to potential partners during a presentation at Pennsylvania Bio’s Life Sciences Future. A privately held company based in Bethlehem, Voltarra recently acquired both IMC Biotechnology and Renascense Pharmaceuticals, Lehigh Valley biotech companies with a portfolio targeting life-saving and life-enhancing therapies.
“The Renascense Pharmaceuticals portfolio of novel formulated compounds, including zoledronic acid (ZA), progesterone and curcumin, is designed to overcome current treatment barriers through an enhanced therapeutic index that drives customer value,” said Voltarra Chief Medical Officer Ketan Desai, Ph.D., formerly CEO of Renascense. “Our lead product is VOLT01, a ZA formulation. In a randomized phase IIa trial, VOLT01 has demonstrated significantly better safety and efficacy in controlling knee osteoarthritis compared to ZA alone, with the added benefit of no post dosing symptoms. VOLT01 has the potential to be the first Disease-Modifying Drug (DMARD) for osteoarthritis.”
Voltarra also acquired IMC Biotechnology’s pre-clinical portfolio of small molecules that target spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
“SYK inhibitors have shown broad activity in clinical trials in rheumatology and oncology whereas anti-TNF agents are the standards of care for patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, though no approved agents are administered orally,” said Voltarra Chief Science Officer Renee Stewart, Ph.D., former CEO of IMC Biotechnology. Stewart is a biological scientist with expertise in both research and medical labs and a broad range of experience in business, academics and non-profit endeavors.
Becker noted that the late-stage assets of Renascense Pharmaceuticals serve as a strong partner for IMC Biotechnology’s clinical development program.
“The broad portfolio will allow Voltarra Pharmaceuticals to capitalize on development synergies and favorably position the company with external customers,” said Becker. “We are extremely excited about the pipeline as well as future plans for a partner in taking VOLT01 to the next stage.”
ZA is a bisphosphonate, a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass, used to treat osteoporosis, Paget’s disease and bone cancers, a market that Voltarra estimates was $6.2 billion in 2011. ZA, administered intravenously, had sales in excess of $1.6 billion in 2012. Its development for the treatment of osteoarthritis is novel.
“While very effective, ZA has drawbacks,” said Desai, who has extensive clinical, regulatory and medical affairs experience at large and small biopharmaceutical companies. “More than in most patients, those with arthritis have high post-dose syndrome (PDS) in the form of flushing, fever, joint pains and muscle aches. We are optimistic that VOLT01, Voltarra’s proprietary derivative of ZA, will demonstrate greater effectiveness as a disease modifying drug than ZA alone in addition to the elimination of PDS.”
Voltarra’s ongoing clinical research also includes central nervous system disorders in the form of a novel progesterone combination; oncology/rheumatology through a novel curcumin combination; and immunology and oncology in the form of SYK and oral TNF inhibitors.
Voltarra Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Based in Bethlehem, Pa., Voltarra Pharmaceuticals features a portfolio of early-stage small molecules and late-stage novel clinical compounds for rheumatology, the central nervous system, oncology and immunology, which the company obtained through the acquisitions of IMC Biotechnology and Renascense Pharmaceuticals. Voltarra is a member of BioNJ and Pennsylvania Bio. For more information, please call (848) 702-0682 or visit www.voltarrapharma.com.