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Veteran Citius CEO Uses All-In Approach to Bring New Treatments to Market

Analysis  |  By Robin Robinson  
   November 27, 2023

Leonard Mazur looks back on a 50-year career in pharma and forward to the anticipated launch of new treatments for three health concerns.

Leonard Mazur is a 50-year veteran in the pharmaceutical field with a myriad of product launches, patents, and titles under his belt. But it wasn't until he turned 50 that he decided to become an entrepreneur and started establishing his own companies.

Today, in his late 70s, he is steering Citius Pharmaceuticals toward anticipated launches of potential first-and-only prescription treatments for three health concerns and a next-generation, scalable stem cell therapy program.

"I didn't really go entrepreneurial till I was 50 years old, which is the worst possible age that you can try something like this," the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Citius Pharmaceuticals says. "I remember I used to bring documents home for my wife to sign, signing over our house, to keep everything going."

When Mazur commits to something, he says, he's all in.

"I put money directly into the company, as does my business partner and co-founder, Myron Holubiak," he says. "We both have millions of dollars invested in the company. That's something you normally don't see."

This strategy sets up Citius Pharmaceutical in the enviable position of having little to no debt burden.

A long career path

Mazur spent the first 10 years of his pharma career at Cooper Laboratory, where he got his taste for working in smaller, faster moving environments.

"It was a dynamic company led by a dynamo CEO and I loved the environment," he says. "Smaller companies are much more driven towards getting results quickly."

Leonard Mazur, CEO of Citius Pharma. Photo courtesy Citius Pharmaceuticals.

He also worked in various roles at the Medicis Pharmaceutical Corporation, ICN Pharmaceuticals, Knoll Pharma, and Cooper Laboratories. He then founded Akrimax Pharmaceuticals, Triax Pharmaceuticals, and Genesis Pharmaceuticals.  

Prior to its merger with Citius in March 2016, he was the co-founder and chairman of Leonard-Meron Biosciences.

Years later, Mazur refers to his time at Cooper Labs as setting the foundation for his success and setting him on the path to entrepreneurship.

"There was no formal training program, but you did have a chance to witness decision-making firsthand," he says. "Being a part of a company like that, I found that you learned very quickly a lot about the business in general. So that all played an important part for me as far as my own development and my own way of looking at things and also, in all likelihood, my own desires as far as pursuing an entrepreneurial career."

The future at Citius

Citius has three potential first-and-only prescription treatments in their indications and a next-generation, scalable stem cell therapy program in the works.

Lymphir, a purified reformulation of denileukin diftitox, is waiting for FDA approval as a cancer immunotherapy treatment for a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Citius filed a BLA in 2022 for the treatment, and earlier this summer the FDA asked the company to incorporate enhanced product testing and additional controls during the market application review. There were no concerns relating to the safety and efficacy clinical data package submitted with the BLA, or the proposed prescribing information. Citius plans to complete the CRL remediation activities by the end of the year and file the resubmission in early 2024. 

Two other products are Halo-Lido, which could become the first FDA-approved prescription product to treat hemorrhoids in the United States, and Mino-Lok, an antibiotic lock solution to treat patients with catheter-related blood stream infections that Citius has licensed from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The company is also working on a stem cell platform for the treatment of respiratory conditions associated with acute inflammation, with an initial indication in the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Citius' most recent news is its merger with TenX Keane Acquisition, creating a separate oncology company, Citius Oncology. Citius Pharma will continue to focus on completing the Mino-Lok trial and evaluating next steps with the Halo-Lido program. The acquisition is expected to be finalized in early 2024.

"Our objective there is the NASDAQ listing that would come with this backing," Mazur says. "That's the primary reason we're doing it that way. Once it starts trading, we don't have to go through a whole separate process to get NASDAQ-qualified, which will enable us to raise the funds a lot quicker. The objective is to raise the funding to launch, without diluting the Citius shareholders any further. Down the road we would start distributing the shares in a subsidiary to the Citius shareholders." 

Growing as a leader

Mazur says he has honed his leadership skills over the years to focus on motivating every person in the company and creating a work environment that values everyone's input. To do that, he believes in "giving everyone all the space that they need" to take responsibility for their work.

"I think if you've got professional people employed, they are the ones that have to make the decisions,” he says. “You are relying upon them to make the right calls to make things happen."

It’s also important, he says, for employees to feel they are a part of the company's success and have the opportunity to participate in that success.

Mazur says he learned from a former boss that stock options are a great way to create that atmosphere.  

"Every single person from the lowest to the highest position has stock options in our company," he says. "In reality, I think stock options are an important motivational tool for everybody. And over the years I've had people that received stock options from years ago, come up to me and thank me for it because they were able to pay for their children's college tuition and other things of that nature. So, you know, it usually works out very, very well."

To lead successfully, Mazur says, one has to first believe in oneself, as well as one’s ideas.

"You have to have confidence, you have to believe in what you're working towards, and what you have in your portfolio," he says. "When all those things come together, it gives you a strong feeling that you will succeed. From the beginning, one of my favorite sayings has always been 'Failure is not an option.'"

One of Mazur's many career highlights occurred at ICN Pharmaceuticals. He had been brought in as vice president of sales and marketing to launch Virazole, the brand name for ribavirin, to treat RSV in infants.

"I love our industry," he says. "I think it's a great industry to be part of because you get involved in something and you never know how it's going to work out. For example, ribavirin  was the very first drug approved for infants to treat a rare respiratory virus, called RSV. Most of the RSV episodes would occur in a neonatal intensive care unit. And if the infants were immune compromised, they could die.”

“The great thing that happened was [that] once the drug first launched, I can't tell you the number of times we received phone calls at the office from parents, nurses, and doctors thanking us for the availability of that drug because it had saved an infant's life,” he says. “I remember telling everybody in our small marketing group at the time: 'Pay attention to this moment. It's never going to get any better than this. This is what we're here for. What better thing can you experience than being a part of saving infants' lives?'"

Born in Germany, Mazur emigrated to the U.S. when he was young, and later in life became a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The medal is presented to those who immigrated to the United States during the Ellis Island era and have shown an outstanding commitment to serving the United States either professionally, culturally, or civically.

Mazur believes strongly in giving back, and his charitable contributions have been many.

“I was deeply moved to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor," he says. "The United States is the only place in the world where immigrants have access to opportunities that far exceed those from where they came. I am very grateful to have been able to tap into those opportunities while celebrating my Ukrainian heritage, which has always been central to my personal growth and professional success. I am living the American Dream and feel honored to work in the healthcare sector where my team and I continue to strive to improve the everyday lives of those in need.”

Mazur has made two significant contributions to his Pennsylvania alma maters: West Catholic Prep High School and Temple University. He says he believes in the value of a liberal arts education and credits his undergraduate degree in psychology from Temple with his entrepreneurial success.

A few years ago, he and his wife donated $5 million to support scholarships and professional development opportunities to students in the College of Liberal Arts. in recognition, Temple is renaming its liberal arts building from Anderson Hall to the Leonard and Helena Mazur Hall.

The Mazurs also donated $5 million to his high school, West Catholic Preparatory, of which he is a member of its Hall of Fame. It’s the largest single donation in the school’s nearly 100-year history.

"I totally believe you have to give back," Mazur says.

“I'm an all-in entrepreneur. I put money directly into the company, as does my business partner. We both have millions of dollars invested in the company.”

Robin Robinson is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders. 


Leonard Mazur’s 50-year career includes discovering new treatments in oncology, stem cell therapy, hemorrhoids, and an antibiotic lock solution.

The merger with TenX Keane Acquisition, splitting the company into Citius Oncology  and Citius Pharmaceuticals, creates opportunities for improved access to the public equity markets.

Mazur shares his successes with his employees, his community, and other charitable works.

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