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FibroGen rocked by unexpected death of CEO Thomas B Neff

Published on 27/08/19 at 12:04pm

In a saddening turn of events, San Francisco-based FibroGen has announced that Thomas B Neff, its Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, unexpectedly passed away over the weekend.

The company released a statement alongside the news which praised Neff for a “legacy of innovation and dedication that has been rarely matched in this industry”.

“Tom founded FibroGen in 1993 when he assembled the global scientific leaders in both collagen synthesis and the molecular and cellular mechanisms of prolyl hydroxylase inhibitors. This pioneering work led to the development of roxadustat, a hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor (HIF-PHI) and pamrevlumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that inhibits the activity of connective tissue growth factor, or CTGF, a critical mediator in the progression of fibrosis and related serious diseases,” the statement read. “The Board of Directors, management team, and employees, deeply mourn his passing, and extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to his family.”

Roxadustat recently secured its second approval in China, and is closing in on authorisation in the US and European markets.

The company has appointed James A Schoeneck, Chairperson of FibroGen’s Compensation Committee, a member of FibroGen’s Audit Committee, and a nine-year member of the Board of Directors, as its interim CEO. He will steer the firm while it searches for a “world-class” executive to take up the role on a permanent basis.

“The expertise in commercial-stage matters that Jim will bring to his role as interim CEO, combined with the long tenure, depth, and quality of FibroGen’s senior management, ensure that the company’s programmes will advance without interruption,” remarked Tom Kearns, FibroGen’s Lead Independent Director and a 20-year Board member. “As roxadustat moves towards global commercialisation, we are fortunate to be partnered with AstraZeneca and Astellas, who provide strong and comprehensive support. We are committed to honouring Tom’s vision and dedication to bringing innovative therapies to patients in need.”

Matt Fellows

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