Raptor Pharmaceuticals CEO to Retire, Appoints Successor

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Raptor Pharmaceuticals (RPTP) announced that its long-time chief executive officer (CEO), Christopher Starr, will retire at year end. Starr, one of the founders of Raptor Pharma, served the biopharmaceutical company for nine years.  

Raptor Pharma also has a succession plan in place, It stated that Julie Anne Smith, currently the company’s Executive Vice President, Strategy and Chief Operating Officer, will succeed Starr at the helm immediately after the latter’s retirement. Smith, who has also been appointed as president, will join the board of directors at Raptor Pharma from the beginning of 2015. Starr and Smith will work closely through Dec 31, 2014 to facilitate a smooth transition. Smith will also remain on the company’s board until the end of the year.

The highlight of Starr’s tenure was the approval of PROCYSBI for the nephropathic cystinosis indication. The drug was launched in the U.S. in Jul 2013 and in Germany in Apr 2014. Raptor Pharma is also working on developing its pipeline. RP103 is the most interesting pipeline candidate. The candidate is undergoing a phase IIb study, which is evaluating its safety and efficacy for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children. The company expects results from the study in the first half of 2015. RP103 is also being evaluated in other indications such as Huntington's disease.

We believe that Smith, with her vast experience in the biotech field, is a good choice as a successor to Starr. Previously she had served companies like Enobia Pharma, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) and Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ). We expect Smith to effectively meet the challenges confronting Raptor Pharma, and increase PROCYSBI’s sales potential and successfully develop the company’s pipeline.

Raptor Pharma carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked healthcare stock is Actelion (ALIOF), carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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