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Troubled drugmaker MannKind names another new CEO

With its stock price in a tailspin, Valencia drugmaker MannKind Corp. faced more confusion Monday when it said it had been forced to withdraw a job offer to a new chief executive.

Last week, MannKind's stock price plunged after it disclosed that its key partner, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, had decided to stop marketing and distributing the company's only approved drug -- Afrezza, an insulin powder that is inhaled.

That was about the same time that Duane DeSisto had been expected to assume duties as the company's top executive.

But MannKind said Monday that it had withdrawn its offer to employ DeSisto because of objections raised by his former employer Insulet Corp. DeSisto had signed a noncompetition agreement with Insulet, which is effective until September, MannKind said.

Chief Financial Officer Matthew Pfeffer will now replace 90-year-old Alfred Mann, the company's founder, who had been serving as interim CEO, the drugmaker said.

Mann had been serving as interim chief since November, when the company's former leader Hakan Edstrom resigned after just 11 months.

Jan. 12, 11:12 a.m.: In an earlier version of this article, former MannKind CEO Hakan Edstrom's name was misspelled as Hankan Edstrom. 

MannKind introduced Afrezza in February, but sales have yet to take off.  The company does not have its own sales force or distribution network. Without Sanofi, it must now find another way to sell the drug.

Afrezza has been difficult to sell because of its safety risks. The drug cannot be prescribed to patients with asthma and other serious lung ailments, according to requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration. The agency also requires doctors to test patients' lung function before writing a prescription -- and every six months during treatment.

Pfeffer will now have multiple roles. He will continue as chief financial officer and also fill a vacancy on the board.

MannKind shares closed up a penny at 67 cents.

Twitter: @MelodyPetersen

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