San Diego drugmaker Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced that Vincent Aurentz is joining the company as executive vice president and chief business officer, effective today.

Aurentz comes from Boston-based Epirus Biopharmaceuticals, a firm focused on biosimilars in the rare disease space, where he worked as chief business officer. Before that, he served as president of Charlottesville, Va.-based HemoShear Therapeutics, where he oversaw scientific and business development efforts, including collaborations with Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Janssen R&D and Children's National Health System, according to an Arena news release.

Aurentz also had executive roles in Big Pharma, including a position at Merck’s biopharma business, Merck Serono, where he directed R&D, portfolio strategy, and headed deal activity and venture investments.

At Arena, Aurentz will report to Amit Munshi, Arena's president and CEO.

"I am excited to have Vince join us at Arena," said Munshi in a news release. "His experience in product planning, operations and corporate development will add significant value as we continue our transition from a discovery research company to an execution-driven, clinically focused company."

Arena underwent a shakeup this summer, when in July the company announced it would lay off 73 percent of its workforce (100 people) as part of a strategic shift in focus.

Arena has one drug on the market, the weight-loss medication Belviq, which has had disappointing sales since approval.

The company says it plans to focus on developing new drugs currently being tested in clinical trials. Its pipeline includes drugs designed to treat pain, ulcerative colitis and pulmonary arterial hypertension.