Healthcare Industry News:  Esprit Pharma 

Biopharmaceuticals Personnel

 News Release - March 27, 2008

EKR Therapeutics Announces Management Additions and Promotions, Reflecting Support of Continued Acceleration in Growth

CEDAR KNOLLS, N.J.--(HSMN NewsFeed)--EKR Therapeutics, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on acquiring, commercializing and maximizing the potential of proprietary acute-care products, today announced additions to its senior management staff including Ernie Biczak, M.D. as Senior Vice President of Marketing, Dave Iwanicki as Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, and Stephen Hulse, R.Ph. as Vice President of Sales. Additionally, Tong Zhang, Ph.D. has been promoted to Vice President of Business Development.

“Each of these individuals has brought to EKR an impressive record of accomplishments, including having previously collaborated in the successful growth of ESP Pharma,” said Howard Weisman, EKR’s chairman and CEO. ESP Pharma was a specialty pharmaceutical company co-founded in 2002 by Weisman to pursue a business model similar to that of EKR Therapeutics. In March 2005, ESP was acquired, along with its lead product Cardene® IV, by Protein Design Labs – the predecessor to PDL BioPharma (NASDAQ:PDLI ) - in a transaction valued at approximately $500 million.

“In addition to a wealth of pharmaceutical expertise, each possesses extensive knowledge of the acute-care space,” noted Weisman. “Moreover, they have a hands-on understanding of Cardene IV which recently became EKR’s largest revenue generating product.” On March 10, 2007 EKR completed the purchase of a portfolio of acute-care cardiovascular assets including the Cardene franchise which had reported 2007 sales exceeding $150 million.

Richard DeSimone, EKR’s COO and CFO, commented “EKR’s growth as a commercial organization and our comparatively rapid emergence as a profitable, cash-flow positive company within two years of initiating operations reflects the talents of our team across all departments.” He concluded, saying, “The strength of EKR’s management, as exemplified by the high caliber professionalism of Ernie, Dave, Steve, and Tong, has and will continue to be a key ingredient in EKR’s success.”

Ernie Biczak, M.D.

Prior to joining EKR Therapeutics, Ernie Biczak served as Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs for Esprit Pharma and before that as Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs for ESP Pharma where his scientific and medical expertise were key elements in understanding and building the market for Cardene IV and other acute-care products. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President, Physician Practices for the Saint Barnabas Health Care System where he developed productivity and compensation guidelines for their employed physicians. Ernie was a co-founder of Immediate Medical Care Centers (IMCC), some of the first urgent care centers in New Jersey, where he practiced medicine for 16 years. Prior to IMCC, Ernie helped develop the Emergency Medicine Residency at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey where he also served as Assistant Emergency Department Director for 3 years.

Ernie received his M.D. degree from Rutgers Medical School, and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the Michigan State University Affiliated Hospitals where he also held the position of Chief Resident.

Dave Iwanicki

Dave Iwanicki comes to EKR Therapeutics from PDL BioPharma where he served as Vice President, Sales and Sales Operations and Corporate Officer. He served on the executive management team for the entire time he was at PDL. Dave joined PDL in March 2005 upon the completion of that company’s acquisition of ESP Pharma, Inc., having served in the same capacity at ESP Pharma were he was part of the initial management team that commercialized ESP. Previously, Dave was employed for fifteen years by Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY ) where he held various sales, marketing and sales management positions. During his tenure with Lilly, Dave spent the last seven years in senior management positions in both retail and hospital sales. He was involved with the creation of Lilly’s cardiology business unit and cardiology specialty sales force and later helped create a diabetes specialty sales force of more than 510 sales representatives that launched three new products in three years and also assisted in creating a critical care sales force of 210 representatives. Dave has spent nearly 15 of his 20 years of pharmaceutical experience in sales and sales operations.

Dave received his BS degree in Business Administration from Western New England College.

Stephen J. Hulse, R.Ph.

Steve Hulse brings to EKR Therapeutics 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including extensive management expertise at the district, regional, and national levels. He joins EKR Therapeutics from PDL BioPharma, having first served in sales management and sales training for ESP Pharma, a company merged into PDL in March 2005. His most recent position at PDL was Director of Sales, Central Area with responsibilities for the management of sales objectives for PDL’s cardiovascular portfolio in one third of the country. He was also involved in hiring sales representatives, managing several Regional Business Mangers, and overseeing a hospital sales force of more than 50 representatives. Additionally, Steve was named to the PDL diligence team engaged in that company’s sale of commercial assets. Previously he served as Senior Director, Pain and Anesthesia Marketing, for Organon Pharmaceuticals and held senior marketing and sales management positions with Knoll Pharmaceutical. Earlier in his career, Steve served as a Hospital Specialist for Astra/Merck and Squibb-Novo.

Steve is a graduate of Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University and is a licensed pharmacist in New York.

Tong Zhang, Ph.D.

Tong Zhang joined EKR in early 2007 with responsibilities that center on pursuing opportunities to leverage EKR’s commercial organization through the expansion of its product portfolio, strategic partnerships, and the acquisition of late-stage development drugs. In this capacity he has been instrumental in EKR’s purchase of Cardene IV and other acute-care product assets. Tong brings to EKR more than a decade of experience in scientific research, consulting, and investment banking. During the course of his career, he has assessed hundreds of marketed and pipeline products and facilitated business development in several high-value licensing deals. Prior to joining EKR Therapeutics, he was a Director for ESP Equity Partners, LLC, a private investment company engaged in acquiring pharmaceutical and medical assets. Previously he served as a pharmaceutical equity analyst for the Credit Suisse Group (NYSE:CS ) and as a consultant for ISO HealthCare Consulting and Defined Health, leading strategic consulting firms.

Dr. Zhang received his Ph.D. in Biology from Columbia University and a B.S. degree in Biology from Wuhan University in China. He also performed post-doctoral research at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

About EKR Therapeutics

EKR Therapeutics is a privately held specialty pharmaceutical company that has brought together a highly seasoned team of industry professionals. The Company focuses on the acquisition, development and commercialization of proprietary products to enhance patient quality-of-life in the acute setting, including cardiovascular, pain management and oncology supportive care medications. From its inception in late 2005, EKR has been organized to be a class leader in commercializing products to address unmet and under-satisfied medical needs or to otherwise enhance the therapeutic value of acute-care prescription products. EKR’s goal is to be the pre-eminent provider of specialty acute-care products, backed by a commitment to excellence in customer service and medical education programs. The Company’s growing portfolio of specialty acute-care products includes Cardene® IV (nicardipine hydrochloride), Cardene SR®, Retavase® (reteplase recombinant), DepoDur® (morphine sulfate extended-release liposomal injection) and Gelclair® (bioadherent oral gel). For additional information about EKR visit the Company’s website at

Source: EKR Therapeutics

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