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Ron Cohen, Acorda Therapeutics

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Company: Acorda Therapeutics, New York, NY
Entry Submitted By: Berry & Company PR
Company Description: Acorda Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing therapies for multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and other nervous system disorders.
Nomination Category: Management Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Executive of the Year - Health Products & Services

Nomination Title: Ron Cohen, M.D., Founder, President and CEO

    Tell the story about what this nominee achieved since January 1 2010 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

        Ron Cohen, M.D., is the President and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury and other nervous system disorders.  He founded the company in 1995 out of his apartment, with no full-time employees or outside funding; today Acorda is a leading biotechnology company with about 300 employees and a market capitalization of over $1 billion.  For fifteen years, Dr. Cohen led the effort to develop AMPYRA, which was approved in January 2010 as the first drug to improve walking in patients with MS. For the more than 400,000 people in the US living with MS, walking impairment is considered among the most devastating disabilities associated with the disease.  Under Dr. Cohen’s direction, the company persevered despite considerable setbacks, including a failed Phase III trial in spinal cord injury, a failed Phase II trial in MS, and the challenge of navigating the FDA review process for a drug with a completely novel indication, clinical trial protocol and endpoint.

        While many biotech companies might have chosen to discontinue a research program when faced with a Phase III failure, Dr. Cohen continued to believe that AMPYRA worked, and that it would be an important treatment option for people with MS.  Dr. Cohen was an integral part of a small team that developed an innovative “responder analysis” for detecting a consistent improvement in a patient’s condition while taking the drug, even though people with MS experience notorious inconsistency in their ability to perform day-to-day activities. This breakthrough allowed Acorda to move forward with its MS research program  and was also the basis of the FDA approval of the drug.   AMPYRA has been one of the most successful launches in the biotechnology industry in 2010 and an important milestone in the treatment of MS.   In the first seven months of its launch, more than 6,300 doctors have prescribed AMPYRA and more than 31,000 people with MS (or over 8% of the entire MS population in the US) have been treated with it. More importantly, Ron’s perseverance resulted in the availability of a medication that has a significant impact for those people with MS who respond to therapy. Dr. Cohen has also been recognized as an expert on a wide range of issues associated with healthcare, drug development, the biotechnology industry, and the treatment of spinal cord injury and nervous system disorders.  In May 2010, Dr. Cohen was elected chairman of the Biotechnology Industry Organization Emerging Companies Section.  In this role, he provides guidance to the small and medium-sized companies that are developing the next generation of drugs and other products to improve human health.  Also this year the New York Biotechnology Association named Dr. Cohen as “The Cures Start Here” Business Leader of the Year for his dedication to helping people with neurological diseases and to the growth of the biotechnology industry in New York.

    List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, []:

        Reuters - AMPYRA approval   

        CBNBC – Dr. Cohen discussing AMPYRA approval

        Acorda press release - Dr. Cohen was elected chairman of the Biotechnology Industry Organization Emerging Companies Section

        New York Biotechnology Association – Dr. Cohen was recipient of “The Cures Start Here” Business Leader of the Year Award

    Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the nominee:

        Ron Cohen founded Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. in 1995. Previously he was a principal in the startup and an officer of Advanced Tissue Sciences, Inc., a biotechnology company engaged in the growth of human organ tissues for transplantation. Dr. Cohen received his B.A. with honors in Psychology from Princeton University, and his M.D. from the Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Virginia Medical Center, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.