WILMINGTON,Michael McKenna, a former executive at AM Pappas & Associates, is the new chief executive officer of startup Merrion Pharmaceuticals.

Merrion, which has its headquarters in Wilmington and operations in Dublin, Ireland, named McKenna to the post on Wednesday. He was helpful in creating the firm, according to the venture capital operation that funded its launch.

A former consultant and owner of Pharmaceutical Consulting Services, he also has worked for Parke-Davis as vice president of drug development and at Dow Cehmicals. Before taking the Merrion position, McKenna was vice president of science and technology at Pappas, an RTP-based venture capital firm.

Merrion is focused on novel means of oral drug delivery. The company was founded earlier this year by Growcorp, an Irish life sciences venture capital group, and it has acquired a “comprehensive portfolio of drug delivery assets” from Elan Corporation. Merrion has four products undergoing Phase I testing. The patent portfolio acquired from Elan includes 25 that were issued or are in-process. They cover oral delivery of drugs and biologic products.

“I am confident that Dr. McKenna is the right person to lead this specialty pharmaceutical venture,” said Michael Donnelly, CEO of Growcorp, in a statement. “McKenna was instrumental in forming Merrion and in the selection of the key technologies that are the foundation of the company. His years of solid biopharmaceutical knowledge and experience are well-matched to the challenges ahead for Merrion to become a leader in the innovative drug delivery sector of the pharmaceutical industry.”

The company’s research and development operations are in Dublin and operate as Merrion BioPharma.

“I am looking forward to leading this exciting new venture,” McKenna said in a statement. “Merrion is fortunate to have acquired a strong portfolio of oral drug delivery technology from Elan Corp., a worldwide leader in the industry. This technology portfolio immediately puts Merrion at the leading-edge of enabling technologies for new biotech products and places us in an excellent position to develop collaborative relationships for product life-cycle management within the pharmaceutical industry.”