Cerecor CEO Retires, Sells Depression Med to J&J

Aug. 15, 2017

Biopharma company Cerecor, which specializes in neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders, announced that its president and CEO Uli Hacksell has retired. John Kaiser, the chief business officer, will act as its interim CEO.

Hacksell will remain chairman of the Cerecor's board, which has initiated a search for a permanent CEO.

"The recent cash infusions in Cerecor from the equity investment by Armistice Capital in the second quarter of 2017 and the sale of CERC-501 to Janssen that was separately announced today have provided me with the opportunity to leave the day-to-day responsibilities of Cerecor to a new Chief Executive Officer, knowing that I can be optimistic about a bright future for the company," said Hacksell. 

Cerecor has sold all of its rights to depression drug CERC-501 to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary for J&J for an initial gross proceeds of $25 million. If certain milestones are met, the deal will be worth up to $45 million.

CERC-501 is a potent and selective oral kappa opioid receptor antagonist that Cerecor has been developing as an adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder ("MDD") and for substance use disorders. CERC-501 has been observed to have activity in animal models of depression, substance withdrawal and dependence, and has been generally well-tolerated in five human clinical trials

Under the terms of the agreement, Janssen will assume the ongoing clinical trials and be responsible for any new development and commercialization.