NEW YORK, April 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A top biotech executive, William Pursley, has agreed to become Chairman of Rx for Africa, Inc.'s (Pink Sheets: RXAF) newly created Business Advisory Board. For 25 years Mr. Pursley has held major executive positions in the biotech industry. In 1985 he joined Genentech, Inc., and was on the marketing team that launched Human Growth Hormone (HGH), one of biotech's first products. It was a huge success. In 1985 Pursley joined Genzyme Corp as VP of Marketing and spearheaded the launch of Ceradase, an Orphan Drug for the treatment of Gaucher's Disease. Only 3,000 people in the US suffer from Gaucher's. Hopes were that the drug would reach $40 million in sales by the third year on the market. It did $120 million in year three. Ceradase has gone on to be Genzyme's biggest seller. It's sales currently exceed $600 million. Genzyme's market cap exceeds $18 billion. Mr. Pursley subsequently became CEO of Osiris Therapeutics, Inc., a leading mesenchymal stem cell company, which recently announced a major corporate alliance with Genzyme.
In 1999, Mr. Pursley joined Transkaryotic Therapeutics as Senior VP of Operations, supervising the European launch of the company's first product, Replagal, an orphan drug for Fabry's disease. The drug took 75% market share in Europe. In 2005, Transkaryotic was sold to Shire Pharmaceuticals for $1.6 billion. He has also achieved great success with reimbursement programs for the drugs he has marketed. "With Ceradase, we were successful in getting insurance companies to reimburse patients up to $350,000 a year for their treatment. Today, in Africa, there are multi-billion dollar funds such as PEPFAR and The Global Fund set up to reimburse companies who distribute drugs for disease such as HIV and malaria. I believe I can help Rx access these funds."
Pursley, who has experience marketing drugs in Africa, sees huge growth ahead for the continent. "Once the global recession lifts, I believe that Rx for Africa has the potential to dominate the sub-Saharan region of Africa, which includes Ethiopia and several neighboring countries with aggregate populations in the hundreds of millions. I believe that I can assist Rx for Africa in the launching of its HIV medications and in helping to identify a continuously updated list of the most current medication regimens to pursue as potential new products.
Mr. Pursley will also lead Rx for Africa's efforts to find US and European partners who will use Rx for Africa's low cost of manufacturing in Ethiopia to their competitive advantage. "When Rx for Africa, Inc.'s wholly-owned subsidiary's manufacturing facilities are approved by the US FDA, it should be relatively easy to find a US marketing partner in the States. Rx's cost of goods are spectacularly low and give it a competitive advantage over even India and China."
Dr. Mulugetta Bezzabeh, Chairman and CEO of Rx for Africa, Inc. commented, "We are excited about working with Mr. Pursley. His background in marketing drugs for HIV-AIDS and other diseases that have a major impact in Africa will give us tremendous insight into our task ahead."
Rx for Africa plans a conference call with investors and analysts on June 1, 2009, when Dr. Bezzabeh and Mr. Pursley will update investors on their efforts.
About Rx for Africa, Inc.
Rx for Africa, Inc. is a public New Jersey corporation, formed in 2007 to invest in companies manufacturing generic pharmaceuticals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rx Africa (Ethiopia) P.L.C. is a wholly-owned operating subsidiary of Rx for Africa, Inc., with a campus just outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, comprising a factory, R&D center and office facilities, currently producing six generic pharmaceutical products. The company sells 100% of its current production through distributors. Shares of Rx for Africa, Inc. common stock are traded under the symbol RXAF.PK on the Pink Sheets.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains certain forward looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which are intended to be covered by safe harbors created hereby. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including the failure to complete successfully the development of new or enhanced products, the Company's future capital needs, the lack of market demand for any new or enhanced products the Company may develop, any actions by the Company's partners or others that may be adverse to the Company, the success of competitive products, other economic factors affecting the Company and its markets, seasonal changes, and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release. The Company disclaims any obligation to update any statements in this press release.
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