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Frank Verwiel Named Axcan President and Chief Executive Officer - Léon Gosselin to Continue as Chairman of the Board


May 19, 2005 - 11:59 ET

Axcan will host a conference call Thursday May 19, at 4:30 P.M. E.T.

  

TSX SYMBOL (Toronto Stock Exchange): AXP
NASDAQ SYMBOL (NASDAQ National Market): AXCA

 


MONT-SAINT-HILAIRE, May 19 - Axcan Pharma Inc. ("Axcan" or
the "Company") today announced the appointment of Frank Verwiel, M.D., as the
Company's president and chief executive officer, effective July 11, 2005. He
will also become a member of the Axcan Board of Directors at the next
scheduled meeting in early August. Léon F. Gosselin, founder of Axcan and the
Company's outgoing president and CEO, will continue to serve as chairman of
the board.

"The appointment of Dr. Verwiel comes in the context of the Company's
succession planning process and the stated objective of separating the CEO and
chairman roles. In my role as chairman of the Board, I will devote my full
attention to long-range strategic plans to drive the future success of Axcan.
I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Verwiel to the Axcan organization and look
forward to working with him to provide continuity of leadership and a smooth
transition of responsibilities. In addition, I will assist him with the
upcoming launch of ITAX and Axcan's emergence as a substantial international
competitor in gastroenterology," Mr. Gosselin said.

"Dr. Verwiel is a highly-skilled, results-oriented pharmaceutical
professional with a demonstrated ability to develop, lead and grow successful
business operations," stated Mr. Gosselin. "His expertise in the
pharmaceutical marketplace will complement the proven success and impressive
track record of Axcan's existing management team as we work together to grow
the Company worldwide," Mr. Gosselin continued.

Axcan is on the verge of completing patient enrolment in its two ITAX
Phase III functional dyspepsia studies. "We expect to file our new drug
application near the end of this year. We are therefore refining our launch
plans and have received serious indications of interest on the ITAX launch
partnering opportunity from major pharmaceutical companies. The contributions
of the current Axcan team, coupled with those of Dr. Verwiel, should help
insure the successful launch of ITAX in 2007, which represents potential peak
sales in excess of $1 billion by 2012 in functional dyspepsia alone.
Furthermore, Axcan will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2007, and what
better way to mark this event than with the launch of this potential
blockbuster, the first in a series of new innovative product launches planned
between 2007 and 2012," concluded Mr. Gosselin.

"I am very pleased to join Axcan Pharma as its new president and CEO at a
time when the Company is entering an exciting new era of growth. I look
forward to participating in this growth and building on the Company's solid
foundation to help Axcan reach the next level," Dr. Verwiel said. "The
continued success of Axcan is dependent upon the ongoing trust of its
customers, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders, and I am committed
to preserving that trust as we work together to accomplish the Company's
expansion and profitability goals," he added.

Based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, Dr. Verwiel most recently held
the position of vice president, Hypertension, Worldwide Human Health Marketing
with Merck & Co., Inc., while concurrently serving as a member of Merck's
Worldwide Hypertension Business Strategy Team. He joined Merck in 1996 as
executive director of the Hospital and Specialty Products Group targeting
specialists in five core areas, including gastroenterology, and was
responsible for global marketing initiatives for these areas. In parallel,
Dr. Verwiel acted as the leader for the Worldwide Business Strategy Team on
Ophthalmics. In 1997, he was appointed managing director, The Netherlands, and
in four years introduced many new products resulting in significant growth in
operations. Prior to joining Merck, from 1988 to 1996, Dr. Verwiel worked with
Servier in Europe in various executive positions. Among his positions at
Servier, he served as area director for its Central European operations that
included Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium and
Luxembourg.

Dr. Verwiel, 42, holds a Medical Degree from Erasmus University,
Rotterdam, The Netherlands, as well as a Master of Business Administration
from INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France, and is fluent in Dutch, English, French
and German. He and his wife, Francine, have three children and will relocate
to Montreal, Quebec, in the near future.

CONFERENCE CALL

Axcan will host a conference call at 4:30 P.M. ET, on May 19, 2005.
Interested parties may also access the conference call by way of web cast at
www.axcan.com . The telephone numbers to access the conference call are
(800) 814-4890 (Canada and United States) or (416) 640-4127 (international). A
replay of the call will be available until May 26, 2005. The telephone number
to access the replay of the call is (416) 640-1917 code: 21125462.

ABOUT AXCAN PHARMA

Axcan is a leading specialty pharmaceutical company involved in the field
of gastroenterology. Axcan markets a broad line of prescription products sold
for the treatment of symptoms in a number of gastrointestinal diseases and
disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome,
cholestatic liver diseases and complications related to cystic fibrosis.
Axcan's products are marketed by its own sales force in North America and
Europe. Its common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the
symbol "AXP" and on the NASDAQ National Market under the symbol "AXCA".

"Safe Harbor" statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform
Act of 1995.

This release contains forward-looking statements, which reflect the
Company's current expectations regarding future events. To the extent any
statements made in this release contain information that is not historical,
these statements are essentially forward looking and are often identified by
words such as "anticipate," "expect," "estimate," "intend," "project," "plan"
and "believe." Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and
uncertainties, including the difficulty of predicting FDA and other regulatory
approvals, acceptance and demand for new pharmaceutical products, the impact
of competitive products and pricing, new product development and launch,
reliance on key strategic alliances, availability of raw materials, the
regulatory environment, fluctuations in operating results, the protection of
our intellectual property and other risks detailed from time to time in the
Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the
securities regulatory authorities.

The name ITAX, appearing in this press release is a trademark of Axcan
Pharma Inc.



David W. Mims,
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer,
Axcan Pharma Inc.,
(205) 991-8085 ext. 3223

or

Julie M. Thibodeau,
Manager, Investor Relations,
Axcan Pharma Inc.,
(450) 467-2600
ext. 2062,
www.axcan.com

Source: AXCAN PHARMA INC.