MannKind, Maker of Afrezza, Appoints New CEO

The prior CEO of MannKind attributed slow sales of Afrezza in part to slow reimbursement from insurers.

Starting January 5, 2015, inhaled insulin maker MannKind Corporation will have a new chief executive officer following last week’s announcement of the appointment of Duane DeSisto, the former president and CEO of Insulet Corp.

MannKind, the maker of Afrezza, was being led on an interim basis by executive chairman and founder Alfred Mann following the resignation of its previous CEO, Hakan Edstrom, after Afrezza sales fell short of expectations throughout 2015.

Mann cited DeSisto’s experience at Insulet in the company’s announcement. “Duane is a respected industry veteran with a strong track record of developing and commercializing disruptive technology for the management of diabetes,” Mann said in the statement. “Duane’s experience will be instrumental as we seek to enhance the commercial opportunity for Afrezza and pursue additional product opportunities within our pipeline.”

After 2 failed attempts, Afrezza won FDA approval in 2014. Afrezza is a fast-acting, mealtime insulin that is designed to be used alongside a long-acting insulin. It carries a boxed warning that says persons with lung conditions such as COPD or asthma should not use the drug. The FDA also requires spirometry to screen out persons with lung conditions before it can be prescribed, something that has raised flags for some physicians and investors but that Sanofi, MannKind’s marketing partner, has worked to address.

Before his resignation, Edstrom had cited the delayed reimbursements from insurers as among the factors in sluggish sales of Afrezza. Despite the paltry sales figures, patients who have tried Afrezza continue to give the drug positive reviews on social media and advocate for its success.

In the company’s statement, DeSisto said he looked forward to working with the leadership to “help Afrezza realize its full potential.”

“MannKind has world class pharmaceutical technology that has the potential to address a large number of unmet medical needs,” he said.