Tonix Pharmaceuticals (OTCBB: TNXP.OB) develops new treatments for challenging disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). The Company’s lead programs are potential new treatments for fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder, which are chronic CNS syndromes. In each of these programs, TONIX seeks to use new doses and formulations of cyclobenzaprine in new treatment regimens. Cyclobenzaprine is the active ingredient of two prescription muscle relaxants that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are marketed by other companies.
The Company announced that Samuel R. Saks, M.D. has been appointed to the Company’s Board of Directors. Dr. Saks has more than 25 years of experience developing pharmaceutical products for CNS conditions, including Xyrem® and Concerta®. With this appointment the TONIX Board has eight Directors.
Dr. Saks earned his Bachelor of Science degree in biology and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Illinois. He was Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the oncology division of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco from 1987 to 2000.
Dr. Saks is the co-founder and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: JAZZ - News). At Jazz, "Dr. Saks was responsible for the commercialization of Xyrem (sodium oxybate) for cataplexy and excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. Dr. Saks also designed and led the effort to develop sodium oxybate as a treatment for FM. Although the program to develop sodium oxybate as a treatment for narcolepsy was abandoned in 2011, robust efficacy in treating pain and other key symptoms was demonstrated. Sodium oxybate has also been shown to significantly improve disordered sleep, a mechanism targeted by TONIX’s lead program for FM."
Dr. Saks was company group chairman of ALZA Corporation ("ALZA") and a member of the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Operating Committee from 2001 until he joined Jazz. Before the company was acquired by Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE: JNJ - News) in 2001, Dr. Saks held executive positions at ALZA including Group Vice President, "where he was responsible for clinical, regulatory and commercial activities. At ALZA Dr. Saks played an important role in developing Concerta, a new formulation of methylphenidate for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."
Before he joined ALZA, "Dr. Saks held clinical research and development management positions with Schering-Plough, Xoma and Genentech." He also formerly served as a scientific advisor to ArQule Pharmaceuticals, CMEA Ventures and ProQuest Investments. He served as a Director of Cougar Biotechnology, which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2009, and of Trubion Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Emergent BioSolutions (NYSE: EBS - News) in 2010. From April 2011 until February 2012, Dr. Saks served as interim Chief Medical Officer of Threshold Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: THLD - News).
Seth Lederman, M.D., Chairman and President of TONIX commented,
"Sam brings to TONIX a phenomenal track record of successfully developing important prescription medications. His experience in developing novel therapeutic products for CNS conditions, including fibromyalgia, will be of tremendous value to our senior management team and to our Board of Directors. We look forward to benefitting from his guidance as we advance our lead product candidates and create shareholder value."
TONIX Board Member Ernest Mario, Ph.D. added,
"We are delighted to welcome Sam to our Board. Sam and I have worked together for more than 20 years. Sam has an outstanding commitment to helping patients by developing medicines to address unmet needs. Sam’s insights into CNS drug development make him ideally suited to bring strategic value to TONIX as we move forward with the clinical development of our CNS product pipeline."