MannKind Corp.’s board of directors appointed Michael Castagna as chief executive office and to the board. The Valencia-based biomedical company markets Afrezza, an inhalable form of insulin.
Castagna replaced Matthew Pfeffer, effective May 25. Pfeffer served as CEO and chief financial officer since January 2016 and as CFO from 2008 to 2016. Pfeffer will continue with the company in an advisory capacity until the end of this month.
“The Board is extremely grateful to Matt for his committed service to the company over the past nine years,” board chair Kent Kresa said in a statement. He added that Pfeffer “successfully set the foundation for the company during its transition into a commercial entity and effectively prepared Michael to be his successor.”
As chief commercial officer, Castagna “built the capabilities from the bottom up necessary to position Afrezza and the company for future growth,” Kresa said. New prescriptions of Afrezza have shown a steady increase since the MannKind launch and future prospects for this innovative product are strong, Kresa said.
Prior to joining MannKind, Castagna spent three years with Amgen Inc., as vice president, global commercial lead for a portfolio of nine biosimilar drugs, and vice president, global lifecycle management.
Prior to Amgen, Castagna was executive director of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s immunology franchise. He also has worked at Sandoz (Novartis), EMD (Merck), Serono, Pharmasset and DuPont Pharmaceuticals.
He received his bachelors of pharmacy degree from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, his doctor of pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, and MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Our inhaled insulin, Afrezza, is a truly differentiated brand that will help millions of people suffering from diabetes, said Castagna in the company’s statement. “Our relentless focus on empowering people to conquer the daily struggle of managing their diabetes will set MannKind apart.”
Rose Alinaya, the company’s senior vice president and principal accounting officer, will serve as acting chief financial officer until a permanent CFO is named.
In early June, MannKind hired a consulting firm to help find partners to develop new uses for Technosphere, its proprietary platform for delivering Afrezza and other inhaled medications.
The company has retained Locust Walk, a Boston-based life sciences transaction advisory firm focused on biopharmaceutical and medical technology companies.
“MannKind has focused its financial resources on the commercialization of Afrezza and is seeking alternate means to fund our other development programs for the Technosphere platform,” said Raymond Urbanski, MannKind’s chief medical officer, in the statement.
“I am excited to collaborate with Locust Walk, who has extensive global experience in pharmaceutical partnering, to help bring our product candidates to market,” he said.
These include treatments for anaphylaxis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Technosphere “is characterized by an ultra-rapid onset of action, simple and needle-free administration, avoidance of hepatic metabolism, and improved bio-availability,” the company said.
Locust Walk will seek strategic partners and investors to advance the development of Technosphere-based therapies which demonstrate benefit across a variety of treatment areas, including but not limited to hypertension, anaphylactic shock, nausea, respiratory disease and pain.