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Pharmaceutical company forms in merger, names CEO

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A new pharmaceutical company in Bethlehem that was formed in a merger has appointed a CEO.

Richard P. Becker Jr. will lead Voltarra Pharmaceuticals Inc., the result of the merger of IMC Biotechnology and Renascense Pharmaceuticals.

In Philadelphia on Nov. 13, Becker introduced Voltarra Pharmaceuticals to potential partners during a presentation at Pennsylvania Bio’s Life Sciences Future event.

The newly organized company will work out of the TechVentures Center of the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast Pennsylvania. Voltarra will use the former offices of IMC at the center, which is on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem.

Becker said Voltarra features a portfolio of early-stage small molecule assets and late-stage novel compounds related to the fields of rheumatology, oncology and immunology.

Becker, who has 20 years of pharmaceutical leadership experience for companies such as Alcon, Merck and Novartis, said he was brought in to drive the presence of the company’s products in the market.

He said that by combining the assets of the two firms, it increases the portfolio of the company.

“It’s more shots on goal,” he said. “The odds are against you in getting a product to market in the pharmaceutical industry. Those odds are certainly enhanced with the more assets you have.”

Voltarra acquired IMC Biotechnology’s pre-clinical portfolio of small molecules that has potential for use in oncology.

Becker noted that the late-stage assets of Renascense Pharmaceuticals serve as a strong partner for IMC Biotechnology’s clinical development program. Those products are targeting specific treatments for pain relief in knee rheumatology, where he said there is a strong market demand.

He said that the product VOLT01 is a bisphosphonate, a class of drugs that prevents the loss of bone mass and is used to treat osteoporosis, Paget’s disease and bone cancers. It’s a market that Voltarra estimates was $6.2 billion in 2011.

“We are extremely excited about the pipeline as well as future plans for a partner in taking VOLT01 to the next stage,” Becker said.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Reporter Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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