Star Scientific 2.0 falters in drug dev efforts after Va. gov corruption scandal
- After intimate links to a scandal involving former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (who was sentenced to prison time in the original trial—a sentence that has been stayed pending appeal), the dietary supplements-focused firm Star Scientific has tried to reinvent itself as a drug developer called Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, WSJ's Ed Silverman reports.
- Rock Creek has been at work designing a trial to test anatadine citrate, which is a chemical found in eggplants, potatoes and tobacco, for treatment of multiple sclerosis.
- Board member Edward McDonnell left Rock Creek after a disagreement over how the trial would be conducted.
Star Scientific's former CEO Jonnie Williams was linked to improper gifts to McDonnell, the very charge that landed the former governor in prison on federal corruption charges.
When Rock Creek board member Edward McDonnell resigned due to concerns about the trial—and the fact that Rock Creek management was planning on conducting the trial in the U.K.—it raised eyebrows. For one thing, McDonnell has 28 years of FDA experience, and therefore, he is well aware of potential regulatory pitfalls.
One potential pitfall for Rock Creek as it attempts to move forward with testing anatadine is the clinical hold order issued by the FDA in August 2014, which stopped the company from conducting the clinical trial in the U.S. due to numerous deficiencies. Anything could happen—but it seems that things are not looking very good for Rock Creek at the moment.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that Gov. McDonnell is currently in prison. His sentence was actually stayed pending appeal, and this post has been updated to reflect that.