Experienced Industry Executive, Steven E. Benner M.D., M.H.S., to Lead Cancer Drug Development
June 14, 2012, SEATTLE /PRNewswire/ -- Cell Therapeutics, Inc. ("CTI") (NASDAQ and MTA: CTIC), a company focused on translating science into novel cancer therapies, today announced that former OncoMed Pharmaceuticals executive, Steven E. Benner, M.D., M.H.S., has joined CTI as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer ("CMO"), reporting to James A. Bianco, M.D., Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Benner will take over all drug development activities at the company. Dr. Benner was previously senior vice president and chief medical officer at OncoMed, a venture-backed biotechnology company focused on the development of cancer stem cell targeting agents. Prior to OncoMed, he was CMO at Protein Design Labs ("PDL"), where he was accountable for all development activities including clinical development, clinical operations, biometry, regulatory affairs, and safety. He also served as Chair of the Portfolio and Clinical Development Management Committees of PDL. Before PDL he held several senior executive roles at Bristol-Myers Squibb in global development, life cycle management, and licensing and alliances.
"Dr. Benner brings to CTI his proven track record of success in advancing the development of innovative therapies for cancer patients," said Dr. Bianco. "His appointment is the first step in re-aligning our portfolio efforts, as we focus on advancing pacritinib into Phase III pivotal studies later this year."
With the new company initiative of the planned Pixuvri™ launch in Europe later this year, Jack W. Singer, M.D., will assume the newly-created role of Executive Vice President ("EVP") of Global Medical Affairs and Translational Medicine, responsible for cancer drug development strategy, global medical affairs, and life cycle management.
"Given Jack's impressive academic credentials, the respect he receives from an international network of key opinion leaders in the field, and his track record in oncology drug development, this was a natural promotion as we introduce Pixuvri™ in Europe," said Dr. Bianco.
"CTI has assembled an impressive late-stage portfolio of novel targeted therapies that address a spectrum of blood related cancers," said Dr. Benner. "With two drugs in Phase III and two more expected to enter Phase III trials within a year, this is an exciting and transformational time to join the team at CTI."
About Pixuvri (pixantrone) Pixuvri is a novel aza-anthracenedione with unique structural and physio-chemical properties. Unlike related compounds, Pixuvri forms stable DNA adducts and in preclinical models has superior anti-lymphoma activity compared to related compounds. Pixuvri was structurally designed so that it cannot bind iron and perpetuate oxygen radical production or form a long-lived hydroxyl metabolite -- both of which are the putative mechanisms for anthracycline induced acute and chronic cardiotoxicity. These novel pharmacologic properties allow Pixuvri to be administered to patients with near maximal lifetime exposure to anthracyclines without unacceptable rates of cardiotoxicity, and, because Pixuvri is not a vesicant, allow it to be safely delivered via a peripheral intravenous catheter.
In May 2012 Pixuvri received conditional marketing authorization in the EU as monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with multiply relapsed or refractory aggressive NHL. The benefit of pixantrone treatment has not been established in patients when used as fifth line or greater chemotherapy in patients who are refractory to last therapy. The Summary of Product Characteristics ("SmPC") has the full prescribing information, including the safety and efficacy profile of Pixuvri in the approved indication. The SmPC is available at http://ec.europa.eu/health/documents/communityregister/html/h764.htm#ProcList.
Pixuvri is currently available in the EU through Named Patient Programs.
Pixuvri does not have marketing approval in the United States.
About Conditional Marketing Authorization Similar to accelerated approval regulations in the United States, conditional marketing authorizations are granted in the EU to medicinal products with a positive benefit/risk assessment that address unmet medical needs and whose availability would result in a significant public health benefit. A conditional marketing authorization is renewable annually. Under the provisions of the conditional marketing authorization for Pixuvri, CTI will be required to complete a post-marketing study aimed at confirming the clinical benefit previously observed.
The EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use ("CHMP") has accepted PIX306, CTI's ongoing randomized controlled phase 3 clinical trial, which compares Pixuvri-rituximab to gemcitabine-rituximab in patients who have relapsed after one to three prior regimens for aggressive B‑cell NHL and who are not eligible for autologous stem cell transplant. As a condition of approval, CTI has agreed to have available the PIX306 clinical trial results by June 2015.
About Pacritinib Pacritinib is an oral, once a day, tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) with dual activity against JAK2 and FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 ("FLT3"). Mutations in these kinases have been shown to be directly related to the development of a variety of blood related cancers including MPN, leukemia and lymphoma. Pacritinib has demonstrated encouraging results in phase 1 and 2 studies for patients with myelofibrosis and a phase 3 study is planned for this disease. FLT3 is a commonly mutated gene found in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients and its activating mutations have been proven to be a negative prognostic marker for clinical outcome suggesting a possible future role for treatment of AML.
About Cell Therapeutics, Inc. Headquartered in Seattle, CTI is a biopharmaceutical company committed to developing an integrated portfolio of oncology products aimed at making cancer more treatable. For additional information, please visit http://www.celltherapeutics.com/.
This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties, the outcome of which could materially and/or adversely affect actual future results and the market price of CTI's securities. Specifically, the risks and uncertainties that could affect the development of Pixuvri or pacritinib, including risks associated with preclinical and clinical developments in the biopharmaceutical industry in general and with Pixuvri or pacritinib in particular including, without limitation, the potential failure of Pixuvri to prove safe and effective for the treatment of relapsed or refractory NHL and/or other tumors as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that Pixuvri may not be immediately available to patients in the EU, that CTI may not market and commercialize Pixuvri as planned, that patients may experience side effects from Pixuvri other than suppression of bone marrow, that CTI may not be able to complete the PIX306 clinical trial of Pixuvri-rituximab compared to gemcitabine-rituximab in patients who have relapsed after 1 to 3 prior regimens for aggressive B‑cell NHL and who are not eligible for autologous stem cell transplant by June 2015 or at all as required by the EMA or have the results of such trial available by June 2015 or at all, that CTI may not be able complete a post-marketing study aimed at confirming the clinical benefit observed in the PIX301 trial, that the conditional marketing authorization for Pixuvri may not be renewed, the potential that phase III studies of pacritinib might not begin this year, failure to launch pixantrone in EU this year, or failure of a pacritinib to prove safe and effective for primary myelofibrosis ("MF") and MF secondary to other myeloproliferative neoplasms("MPN"), CTI's ability to continue to raise capital as needed to fund its operations in general, and, including, without limitation, competitive factors, technological developments, costs of developing, producing, and selling Pixuvri, and the risk factors listed or described from time to time in CTI's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission including, without limitation, CTI's most recent filings on Forms 10-K, 8-K, and 10-Q. Except as may be required by law, CTI does not intend to update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.