Unigene Strengthens Board with the Appointment of Walgreen’s Executive, Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr.
Nov 16, 2011
November 16, 2011 — Boonton, NJ — Unigene Laboratories, Inc. (OTCBB: UGNE), a leader in the design, delivery, manufacture and development of peptide-based therapeutics, today announced the appointment of Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr. to its Board of Directors.
Mr. Sabatino is currently Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Walgreen Co., (NYSE: WAG) (NASDAQ: WAG), based in Deerfield, IL. He joined Walgreens in September 2011 after having held general counsel roles with United Airlines, Inc., Schering-Plough Corporation, Baxter International Inc., and American Medical International, Inc.
Richard Levy, Chairman of the Board at Unigene and Managing Partner and Founder of Victory Park Capital, the Chicago-based alternative investment firm, which provided Unigene with critical new capital during the company’s 2010 debt restructuring, said, “We are proud to have Tom join Unigene’s Board of Directors. His extensive industry experience and impressive track record — specifically, his knowledge of the legal and regulatory landscape for pharmaceutical companies — will be invaluable as Unigene continues to execute against its business transformation. Tom brings a wealth of contacts, knowledge and insight that will strengthen our board and be instrumental in guiding the business through market-leading clinical developments of orally-delivered, peptide-based therapeutics.”
Thomas J. Sabatino, Jr., stated, “Unigene has emerged as the leading oral peptide delivery company with validated technology platforms. I am extremely impressed with the management team’s progress thus far. The team’s unwavering commitment to the solid execution of their strategy has resulted in tangible results over the past year as well as set the stage for multiple events that will continue to transform the Company. I look forward to playing an active role in establishing Unigene as the preeminent oral peptide delivery Company.”
After beginning his career with a law firm and then moving into corporate law, Sabatino was named President and CEO in 1990 of privately-held medical products manufacturer and distributor Secure Medical, Inc., of Mundelein, IL. In 1992, he joined American Medical International, a Dallas-based for-profit hospital chain with 40 acute-care hospitals. Three years later he rejoined Baxter International and was named Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Company in 1997. Sabatino moved to Schering-Plough in 2004 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Global Law and Public Affairs.
In March 2010, he was appointed General Counsel of United Airlines and immediately took a leading role in its merger negotiations with Continental Airlines, Inc. Sabatino left United Continental Holdings, Inc. in 2011 after completion of the merger.
Sabatino earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, in 1980 and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1983. He is a member of the bar in Massachusetts, Illinois, California and New Jersey. He serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel; serves on the Advisory Board of Corporate Pro Bono; and is on the General Counsel Committee of the American Bar Association.
Unigene is a Boonton, NJ, based company (though incorporated in Delaware) founded in 1980: the company also has a research lab in Fairfield NJ (close to Boonton). The company’s focus has, from its inception, been the development and manufacture of peptide drugs.
Unigene is devoted to production of peptide therapeutics and, more specifically, to development of orally available forms of peptides. Peptides are commonly used as drugs (insulin may be the most common example). Chemically, peptides (proteins are just big peptides) are simply polymers of amino acids (Exhibit 3). While peptides can be very strong, the bond that holds the amino acids together is particularly susceptible to the strongly acidic conditions (pH ~2) in the stomach, and are degraded by this acid. Additionally, there are gastric enzymes secreted in the stomach (pepsin) that also degrade peptides into smaller fragments.