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Immunome, ApiJect Biotechs Hire Legal Chiefs Amid Covid-19 Fight

Dec. 10, 2020, 9:37 PM

Immunome Inc. and ApiJect Systems Corp. have hired new top lawyers as the biopharmaceutical companies work with federal agencies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sandra Stoneman joined Immunome, based in Exton, Pa., in October after the company’s $39 million IPO as the company’s first chief legal officer and general counsel.

James Garrett assumed the role of general counsel and chief compliance officer of ApiJect, based in Stamford, Conn., on Monday.

Stoneman and Garrett are the most recent in a series of top lawyers to join the pharmaceutical industry in a year of heightened medical demand spurred by Covid-19, which has caused more than 291,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Immunome specializes in antibody treatments using memory B cells, or antibodies that hold information about prior illnesses, to treat cancers and infectious diseases like Covid-19.

The Department of Defense awarded a $13.3 million contract to Immunome in July to develop a treatment for Covid-19 using plasma alternatives. The goal is to reduce the pharmaceutical industry’s reliance on donated plasma from recovered virus patients.

ApiJect focuses on the development and production of injectable medicines.

In March, a week after the World Health Organization officially declared the pandemic, ApiJect and the Department of Health and Human Services began a partnership dubbed “RAPID”dedicated to creating a fast-paced method of manufacturing pre-filled syringes, like the millions needed for a Covid vaccine.

Inside Immunome

This is Stoneman’s first in-house role. Previously, she was with Duane Morris for nearly two decades, most recently as a partner and the firm’s life sciences practice co-chair. She began her career with Dechert.

“At Duane Morris, I was working with high growth life sciences companies, including Immunome, and I just loved the team. I was not looking to leave private practice, but as they were moving forward with the IPO, I think they realized that there was a need,” Stoneman told Bloomberg Law.

In the same statement announcing Stoneman’s addition, Immunome said Richard Baron has also joined the company’s board of directors as audit committee chair.

Last month, Immunome’s chief financial officer, Richard Fitzgerald, resigned, and Diane Marcou stepped in as interim CFO, according to a Nov. 30 SEC filing.

Cooley advised Immunome during the company’s IPO, which generated a total of $1.45 million in legal fees and expenses, according to a September SEC filing. Goodwin Proctor advised Immunome’s underwriters.

“The completion of our recent IPO marks a significant milestone for Immunome and positions us to further accelerate the output of new discoveries from our platform, and to rapidly advance our lead oncology and COVID-19 therapeutic antibody programs into the clinic,” Immunome CEO and president Purnanand Sarma in a Nov. 17 statement.

About ApiJect

Garrett joined ApiJect from surgery technology company NuVasive Inc., according to a Dec. 10 ApiJect statement. Prior to that, Garrett worked in private practice with firms like Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and DLA Piper.

“Joining ApiJect on the cusp of U.S. COVID-19 vaccine approvals is exciting,” Garrett said in the statement. “There are myriad of regulatory agencies, national and global companies and legal frameworks that we must actively navigate, and I am excited to take on this challenge with the ApiJect team.”

ApiJect has received multiple government grants and loans this year in addition to its partnership with the HHS, including a $590 million loan from the U.S. government in November. The money, in conjunction with funding from investment bank Jeffries Financial Group, will be used for a pre-filled syringe production facility in preparation for a Covid-19 vaccine rollout, according to a Nov. 19 statement.

Garrett takes over for Magdalena Fincham, who served as the company’s interim general counsel and intellectual property counsel.

ApiJect hired Franco Negron from Thermo Fisher Scientific as its CEO earlier this summer. In September, ApiJect also hired Rajesh Asarpota as its new chief financial officer.

Other notable legal hires in the pharmaceutical industry this year include:

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com;
John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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