Michael is the Founder and CEO of Castle Creek Pharmaceuticals, which he has built from a complete startup to one of the fastest growing specialty pharmaceutical companies in the industry. Castle Creek has rapidly assembled a robust portfolio of products backed by strong science and focused on meeting patient needs in the treatment of rare and debilitating dermatologic conditions.
Mr. Derby is a successful entrepreneur, operating executive and investor, with 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and broader life sciences sector. He has founded or co-founded four specialty pharmaceutical companies, and has a passion for developing and commercializing innovative drugs for patients with rare diseases and other serious medical conditions.
Prior to starting Castle Creek, Mr. Derby founded Norphan Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on the development of drugs for orphan neurologic disease, which he ran in its early stages and sold to Marathon Pharmaceuticals in a successful financing-turned-acquisition transaction in 2013. Mr. Derby joined Marathon to oversee the transition of the Norphan assets, and also led Marathon’s business development effort through 2015. One of the Norphan products has become the first drug to gain unconditional approval in the U.S. for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
From 2008 to 2011, Mr. Derby served as a lead Healthcare Partner at the early-stage private equity and investment advisory firm, Centerstone Partners. At Centerstone, he led or co-led the formation, fundraising, corporate strategy development and early management of a number of companies spanning the pharmaceutical, clinical research and diagnostics industries, including the spinout of Omnicare Clinical Research (renamed Theorem Clinical Research) from Omnicare, Inc. in an acquisition by a major private equity firm. In 2015, Theorem Clinical Research was sold to Chiltern in a highly successful exit event. Prior to Centerstone, Mr. Derby was a venture capitalist with EGS Healthcare Capital Partners, and also previously worked in key commercial roles for Merck & Co. and Forest Laboratories.
Mr. Derby holds advanced degrees in business and science, with an M.B.A., with distinction, from New York University’s Stern School of Business, an M.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester, and a B.S., with honors, from Johns Hopkins University, where he was a Beneficial Hodson merit scholar and member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.
John has a highly accomplished career as both a strategic and operational leader in the pharmaceutical sector. As CEO, he opened a successful U.S. affiliate for a European based parent company by leveraging his strengths in strategic leadership, portfolio management, business development and innovation commercial execution. As Global Vice President, Dermatology and Respiratory Disease, he had overall launch responsibility for a major new breakthrough Biologic treatment in the areas of Severe Atopic Dermatitis and Asthma. Other specific career accomplishments include developing patient-centric strategies/cultures, turning around underperforming business models, effectively managing lifecycles of both strategic and non-strategic brands, and developing businesses from preclinical through to commercialization/go-to-market strategy. He also has effectively managed in-licensing/out-licensing activities, led due diligence teams, expanded multiple product portfolios, and acquired a solid understanding of managed care markets in the US and Europe.
Most recently in his position as Global Vice President, Dermatology and Respiratory Diseases at Sanofi -Genzyme, John had overall responsibility for the global Launch of Dupilumab, the first biologic treatment for Moderate to Severe Atopic Dermatitis. John played an active role in the setting of the corporate strategy within the area of Dermatology and Respiratory Diseases (Asthma and Nasal Polyposis). Prior to this, John was the President and CEO of LEO Pharma U.S., a $300 million privately held affiliate of Denmark based, $1.4 billion+, LEO Pharma A/S, John had full P&L responsibility leading efforts to design and build-out a diverse and cross-cultural U.S. organisation from initial stages to a premier Dermatology company in the U.S. In this role he orchestrated the turnaround of the Psoriasis Franchise and established the Actinic Keratosis Franchise in U.S. with the market leading lead brand, Picato®, championed a new patient-centric vision/strategy across all LEO activities, and raised the profit level and revenue by optimising payer and market access strategies.
In his previous positions with LEO, John was the Divisional Director, Critical Care and Dermatology at LEO Pharma/UK where with overall P&L accountability for both of the major commercial Divisions, including directing sales, marketing and medical/KOL liaison functions, he led both divisions to double digit growth, launched new products, and expanded/re-tooled the field force. In prior internationally based roles, John was Director, Corporate Licensing and Business Development, North America at LEO Pharma/Canada, where he successfully launched the North American business development function, including broad responsibilities for strategy development, opportunity identification and assessment, and process development; International Marketing Manager, Critical Care at LEO Pharma A/S – Denmark, where he led global marketing of the Critical Care portfolio in areas of international strategy, coordination of affiliate activities, optimization of product profiles, identification of new opportunities for expansion and overall product profitability.
Dr. Tavakkol is a seasoned senior executive and passionate leader with strong management skills and over 28 years of drug development experience in large pharma/biotech, consumer healthcare and academia. He has led cross functional project teams and clinical development teams in dermatology and infectious diseases resulting in successful regulatory filings and product launches, and has been awarded patents/trademarks, and authored 60 high impact publications in leading medical and scientific journals. Dr. Tavakkol has led medical affairs functions including life-cycle management, KOL development, advisory boards and communications planning. Dr. Tavakkol is a nationally and internationally recognized industry drug-development expert in nail, skin and hair fungal diseases, with significant experience in pre-clinical research, phase 1 – 4 clinical research in retinoids, dermatosis, and cutaneous antioxidant products.
Prior to joining Castle Creek Pharma, Dr. Tavakkol was the Chief Development Officer at Viamet Pharmaceuticals where he led drug development efforts for Viamet’s portfolio of antifungal drugs including the successful completion of two large phase 2b trials of the lead compound in two separate indications in dermatology and women’s health, and IND enabling studies. In addition, Dr. Tavakkol played a key role in antifungal portfolio prioritization, investor and external partnering interactions sharply focused on increasing asset value for M&A or licensing. Previously, he was the Sr. Vice President & Head, Clinical Development & Operations at Topica Pharmaceuticals, where he spearheaded clinical, regulatory and communication strategies for completion of a number of phase 1A and phase 2b/3 studies for luliconazole, which received FDA agreement as a phase 3-ready program for onychomycosis.
Dr. Tavakkol also served as Product Development Team leader in the Infectious Diseases Franchise at Merck & Co, Inc, where he had accountability for two leading antifungal drugs for the treatment of invasive fungal infections. Before acquisition by Merck, Dr. Tavakkol was Head, Dermatology Global Clinical Research, at Schering Plough, where he was responsible for the clinical development teams, and served as an internal dermatology expert for early development drug candidates and licensing opportunities. His experience also includes roles at Novartis and Colgate Palmolive. Prior to joining industry, Dr. Tavakkol was a faculty member at the University of Michigan Dermatology Dept. where he studied the retinoid and UV effects in human skin.
Dr. Tavakkol obtained his Ph.D. in Bacteriology & Virology from University of Manchester, UK, and has a Postgraduate Diploma in Infectious Disease from the UK. He spent a year of internship in Infectious Diseases at PHLS, Leeds Seacroft Hospital, UK, holds a BS Degree in Medical Technology and is a certified project manager with Six Sigma training.