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Essentialis Appoints Mahendra G. Shah, Ph.D., to Board of Directors

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Essentialis, Inc., today announced the appointment of Mahendra G. Shah, Ph.D., a partner with the life sciences-focused venture capital firm Vivo Ventures, to its Board of Directors.  A biopharma executive noted for his expertise in business development and economic strategies, Dr. Shah becomes the sixth member of the Board of Directors for Essentialis, a company focused on the development of a breakthrough medicine for the treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.  Its lead compound, DCCR, is now in Phase IIb trials for patients with very high triglycerides. 

"Dr. Shah brings to Essentialis his tested knowledge in business development, clinical design and pharma-board leadership," said Stuart Collinson, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board, Essentialis.  "Essentialis expects to release its Phase IIb trial data for DCCR in the coming weeks.  As we prepare to begin a new chapter with an exciting new compound for further evaluation, board members with Dr. Shah's range of experience will advance our development objectives."

Essentialis added Dr. Richard Pasternak, a renowned cardiologist and former Merck & Co., Inc. executive, and Mr. Aaron Berg, Essentialis president, who was recently promoted to Chief Executive Officer, to its board of directors in December 2011.

About Mahendra G. Shah, Ph.D.

Mahendra G, Shah, Ph.D., has been a venture partner at Vivo Ventures, a life sciences-focused venture fund, since March 2010.  Prior to joining Vivo Ventures, he served as chief executive for several biopharma companies.  From September 2005 to December 2009, he was the founder, chairman and CEO of Nextwave Pharmaceuticals Pediatric, a specialty biomedical company.  From 1993 to 2003, he served as chairman and CEO of First Horizon Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded specialty pharmaceutical company, where he raised more than $200 million in the public market and built a profitable company with sales exceeding $150 million.  Achieving its business objectives, First Horizon (renamed Sciele) was acquired by Shionogi Pharmaceutical Company for $1.4 billion in 2008.  Dr. Shah also served as the senior director of new business development with Fujisawa USA (Astellas) from 1987 to 1991; prior to that, he served in scientific and management positions with Schering-Plough and Bristol Myers-Squibb Company.

Dr. Shah has served on the boards of Unimed Pharmaceuticals (UMED), Introgen Therapeutics Inc., Inpharmakon, Inc., Protomed Inc., Structural Bioinformatics Inc., and Zarix Inc. He received his Ph.D. in industrial pharmacy from St. John's University and his Bachelors and Masters Degree in Pharmacy from L.M. College of Pharmacy in Gujarat, India.

About DCCR

DCCR is a proprietary crystalline salt of diazoxide in a controlled-release, once-a-day tablet formulation, currently in development for patients with very high triglycerides. Essentialis expects to initiate Phase III clinical trials in 2012.  DCCR is covered by multiple issued US patents, which provide composition of matter protection until 2028.  Essentialis has evaluated DCCR in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that demonstrated the drug was well tolerated, and achieved various statistically significant endpoints in patients with elevated triglycerides. More than 100,000 patient-years of treatment with diazoxide during the last 40 years, and more than 3,000 peer reviewed publications covering in-vitro, animal model and clinical results with diazoxide, support the acceptable safety of DCCR.

About Essentialis, Inc.

Essentialis is a San Diego-headquartered pharmaceutical company focused on the development of breakthrough medicines targeted to the ATP-sensitive potassium channel, a metabolically regulated membrane protein whose modulation has potential to treat and prevent a wide range of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.  For more information visit


Kristie Kuhl 


Aaron Berg 

SOURCE Essentialis, Inc.
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