By Randall Osborne
Kirk Raab added a fifth board-chairmanship notch to his belt with a new appointment at LXR Biotechnology Inc., where he also was named interim CEO until the company can recruit a permanent one.
Raab said he will not seek the CEO job. "I've already done that in life," he told BioWorld Today.
Since he was forced out as CEO of South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc. in 1995, Raab has been named chairman of the board at biotechnology companies on three continents. (See BioWorld Today, May 5, 1997, p. 1.)
He has been a board member at LXR for more than two years.
David Tomei, LXR's co-founder, who had served as chairman and CEO, is "going back to science," Raab said. "We've developed a strong relationship, and agreed a change is in order."
Tomei has been appointed executive vice president and chief scientific officer.
Raab said the shuffle was "not a bloodbath or a reaction" to the FDA's request for more information about CP-Cardiosol, a preservative drug for use in cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.
Earlier this month, the FDA put a review of LXR's investigational new drug application for CP-Cardiosol on clinical hold pending answers to questions and additional data from the company.
"We were talking about doing [the switching of jobs] long before that position was taken by the FDA," Raab said.
LXR expects to get the go-ahead from the FDA shortly, Raab said.
"We've responded to them," he added. "They have not reviewed a product such as CP-Cardiosol for a long time," and a new division of the agency is handling the submission.
Trial Delay 'Not A Big Deal'
The delay in starting trials is "too bad, obviously," Raab said, but the delay likely will not be long. "It's a matter of months, not a big deal."
LXR's lead product is HK-Cardiosol, a preservation solution for use during heart transplantation that is in a pivotal clinical study.
In addition to his new post at LXR, Raab is board chairman at Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif.; Oxford GlycoSciences Inc., in Oxford, U.K.; Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco; and Sinogen International Ltd., of Shenzhen, in the Guangdong Province of China.
He compared the interim CEO post at LXR to a similar tour of duty he served at Oxford GlycoSciences.
"I took over as CEO in February 1996 until Michael Kranda joined us in August 1996," Raab said. "This [position at LXR] is a little easier," he joked. "I just have to drive across a bridge."
As of Dec. 31, 1997, LXR had $11.5 million in cash, with a net loss for the year of $9.2 million. The company's stock (AMEX:LXR) closed Thursday at $3.625, up $0.062. *