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MannKind entices Lilly VP to CMO role

Published on: 09/02/18

MannKind, the California-based biotech, announced that David Kendall would be joining its team as Chief Medical Officer and would be assuming responsibility for the company’s research, clinical development and medical affairs responsibilities.

It’s a broad role but one that Kendall should be suitably equipped for, after joining MannKind from his position as Vice President of Global Medical Affairs at Eli Lilly’s diabetes unit. The appointment is something of a coup for MannKind, which has struggled to make an impact with its Afrezza product.

Afrezza is a product that releases insulin via an inhaler rather than the traditional injections, which are off-putting to many people who are uncomfortable with needles. It was thought that the product may have been able to carve out its own niche in the huge market for diabetes treatment, leading to interest from Sanofi.

Sanofi agreed a $925 million marketing deal, only for the diabetes behemoth to bail after poor sales, which included only $7.5 million made in 2015. It was speculated that the product struggled due to patients needing a lung test before being given the go-ahead to use the product. However, MannKind’s willingness to take on the responsibilities for marketing the product again suggests that company believe it may have been a failure on the part of Sanofi.

Hiring Kendall represents a process of trying to reinvigorate the push to crack the market by the treatment. He said as much on the announcement of his appointment, “The research and clinical response to Afrezza as a mealtime insulin supports ongoing efforts to establish this product as the standard of care for those living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes”.

“David is a world renowned diabetes expert and represents an important addition to our executive leadership team,” said Michael Castagna, Chief Executive Officer of MannKind. “His extensive experience in diabetes research, development, and clinical care in both U.S. and international markets, will be instrumental in helping us achieve the growth potential that we believe Afrezza clearly possesses.”

Kendall’s experience includes close to seven years at Eli Lilly, as well as working as CMO at the American Diabetes Association and as Medical Director of the International Diabetes Center.

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