Former AstraZeneca executive Zook expected to take reins at obesity drug maker

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Former AstraZeneca Delaware executive Tony Zook is expected to take the reins of an obesity   drug-maker based in California’s Silicon Valley.

Vivus, based in Mountain View, Calif., reached a settlement is with First Manhattan Co., the owner of about  9.9 percent of the outstanding shares of  Vivus, and Sarissa Capital Management LP, the owner of approximately two percent of Vivus’s  outstanding shares.

The companies had been engaged in a proxy battle with Vivus, claiming that the company was moving too slowly in building sales for Qsymia,  a drug  used to help obese persons to lose weight.

The drug is now on the market, but has seen sales forecasts drop. Other obesity-fighting drugs have experienced problems with side effects and have made physicians wary about writing prescriptions.

Under the agreement, several board members will resign, with the board also expanding from nine to 11 members. Final approval is expected at Vivus’ annual meeting.

Anthony P. Zook is expected to be named Vivus’s  new Chief Executive Officer and appointed to the board. Zook is expected to succeed Leland Wilson, who will depart as VIVUS’s CEO.

Zook said, “I am excited about the enormous opportunity before us. Qsymia has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people. I look forward to working with the new board and the many exceptionally talented people at VIVUS to bring an exciting medicine to people who can benefit from it most.”

From an office in north  Wilmington, Zook headed North American and global commercial commercial operations for AstraZeneca before a management shake-up at the company that led to the departure of AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan and other senior executives.

AstraZeneca has been struggling to build a drug pipeline as mainstay products  lose patent protection.  AstraZeneca has since announced a restructuring that will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs in Delaware in coming years.

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