Sanofi re­cruits No­var­tis' top phar­ma ex­ec Paul Hud­son as its new CEO — so what hap­pens now?

Sanofi’s board has turned to some­one who’s not French to be its next CEO.

The Paris-based phar­ma gi­ant named No­var­tis phar­ma chief Paul Hud­son — a British phar­ma ex­ec­u­tive with an in­ter­na­tion­al pedi­gree — to the top post as cur­rent CEO Olivi­er Brandi­court heads off to an ear­ly “re­tire­ment.”

Marie-France Tschudin AAA

In a care­ful­ly or­ches­trat­ed re­sponse, No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan con­grat­u­lat­ed Hud­son and named Marie-France Tschudin, a Swiss cit­i­zen who’s head­ing up the re­cent­ly ac­quired can­cer group Ad­vanced Ac­cel­er­a­tor Ap­pli­ca­tions, as Hud­son’s re­place­ment. In do­ing so, he im­me­di­ate­ly po­si­tioned Tschudin — who speaks 6 lan­guages — as a top can­di­date for any fu­ture Big Phar­ma CEO open­ing.

Hud­son joined No­var­tis and the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee just three years ago, af­ter serv­ing as the US phar­ma chief for As­traZeneca. He has a de­gree in eco­nom­ics from Man­ches­ter Met­ro­pol­i­tan Uni­ver­si­ty in the UK.

Hud­son will take the top slot on Sep­tem­ber 1, where he’ll be greet­ed by an ex­tra­or­di­nary chal­lenge. The com­pa­ny has an R&D group with a rep for slow mo­tion move­ment and a mar­ket­ing team that’s faced with some tough chal­lenges on the di­a­betes front, among oth­ers.

In­vestors re­spond­ed warm­ly to the ac­tion, bid­ding Sanofi’s shares up 5.5%  on Fri­day.

Brandi­court came on board just 4 years ago, fol­low­ing in the wake of Chris Viehbach­er, who was axed by the Gal­lic board and pow­er­ful chair­man — Serge Wein­berg — in charge of Sanofi af­ter mov­ing back home to the US. The French clear­ly want­ed a na­tive to run the com­pa­ny at the time, but ap­par­ent­ly feel that pro­fes­sion­al­ism trumps na­tion­al­i­ty as it works to­ward a turn­around.

One of Reuters sources, who tipped the wire ser­vices off ear­ly on the an­nounce­ment, said that Hud­son was picked be­cause of his sol­id man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­pe­ri­ence with dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, where No­var­tis has been care­ful­ly fo­cused.

So now the guess­ing games be­gin. What will Hud­son do to shake things up at Sanofi, where its R&D or­ga­ni­za­tion has pro­duced lit­tle of re­al val­ue, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of their late-stage can­cer drug isat­ux­imab?

Sanofi ex­e­cut­ed ma­jor al­liances with Re­gen­eron and Al­ny­lam on ground­break­ing drugs, but on its own the com­pa­ny is known as large­ly mori­bund and bu­reau­crat­ic, tak­ing a long stretch to fi­nal­ly ex­e­cute on the M&A front un­der Brandi­court. And now they’ve backed away from those al­liances to lean more heav­i­ly on the pipeline and R&D chief John Reed.

If Hud­son’s back­ground at No­var­tis is an in­di­ca­tor, he may turn to deal­mak­ing to help en­liv­en the late-stage pipeline, where all big phar­mas are judged. An in­ter­nal shake­up in key ar­eas like on­col­o­gy may al­so be in the off­ing, as new ex­ecs like Di­et­mar Berg­er join up. And just about every new CEO — Dave Ricks and Em­ma Walm­s­ley, for ex­am­ple — like to bring out the axe to chop away at the dead wood be­fore adding any­thing.

Reed has al­ready re­vamped the pipeline. But look for an even greater re­liance on the US re­search ops around Boston to car­ry the bulk of the weight.

Any­one look­ing for the next sig­nal on Hud­son’s sta­tus should look to his com­pen­sa­tion pack­age. Brandi­court took home a 2018 com­pen­sa­tion pack­age of $8.1 mil­lion — down $2.7 mil­lion, a painful 33% drop — com­pared to his al­lot­ment for 2017. Eu­ro­pean ex­ecs tend to be paid sig­nif­i­cant­ly less than their US coun­ter­parts, but a cut in com­pen­sa­tion like that un­der­scored the board’s feel­ings about Brandi­court’s lack of ef­fec­tive­ness as a man­ag­er.

How much did Hud­son get in his ne­go­ti­a­tions?

Im­age: Paul Hud­son (No­var­tis)

 

Amarin CEO John Thero discussing the company's plans for Vascepa, August 2019 — via Bloomberg

Amarin wins a block­buster ap­proval from the FDA. Now every­one can shift fo­cus to the patent

For all those people who could never quite believe that Amarin $AMRN would get an expanded label with blockbuster implications, the stress and anxiety on display right up to the last minute on Twitter can now end. But new, pressing questions will immediately surface now that the OK has come through.

On Friday afternoon, the FDA stamped its landmark approval on the industrial strength fish oil for reducing cardio risks for a large and well defined population of patients. The approval doesn’t give Amarin everything it wants in expanding its use, losing out on the primary prevention group, but it goes a long way to doing what the company needed to make a major splash. The approval was cited for patients with “elevated triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood) of 150 milligrams per deciliter or higher. Patients must also have either established cardiovascular disease or diabetes and two or more additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

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Sarep­ta was stunned by the re­jec­tion of Vyondys 53. Now it's stun­ning every­one with a sur­prise ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval

Sarepta has a friend in the FDA after all. Four months after the agency determined that it would be wrong to give Sarepta an accelerated approval for their Duchenne MD drug golodirsen, regulators have executed a stunning about face and offered the biotech a quick green light in any case.

It was the agency that first put out the news late Thursday, announcing that Duchenne MD patients with a mutation amenable to exon 53 skipping will now have their first targeted treatment: Vyondys 53, or golodirsen. Having secured the OK via a dispute resolution mechanism, the biotech said the new drug has been priced on par with their only other marketed drug, Exondys 51 — which for an average patient costs about $300,000 per year, but since pricing is based on weight, that sticker price can even cross $1 million.

Sarepta shares $SRPT surged 23% after-market to $124.

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UP­DAT­ED: Sanofi CEO Hud­son lays out new R&D fo­cus — chop­ping di­a­betes, car­dio and slash­ing $2B-plus costs in sur­gi­cal dis­sec­tion

Earlier on Monday, new Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson baited the hook on his upcoming strategy presentation Tuesday with a tell-tale deal to buy Synthorx for $2.5 billion. That fits squarely with hints that he’s pointing the company to a bigger future in oncology, which also squares with a major industry tilt.

In a big reveal later in the day, though, Hudson offered a slate of stunners on his plans to surgically dissect and reassemble the portfoloio, saying that the company is dropping cardio and diabetes research — which covers two of its biggest franchise arenas. Sanofi missed the boat on developing new diabetes drugs, and now it’s pulling out entirely. As part of the pullback, it’s dropping efpeglenatide, their once-weekly GLP-1 injection for diabetes.

“To be out of cardiovascular and diabetes is not easy for a company like ours with an incredibly proud history,” Hudson said on a call with reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. “As tough a choice as that is, we’re making that choice.”

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Paul Biondi (File photo)

Paul Biondi's track record at Bris­tol-My­ers cov­ered bil­lions in deals of every shape and size. Here's the com­plete break­down

Paul Biondi was never afraid to bet big during his stint as business development chief at Bristol-Myers Squibb. And while the gambles didn’t all pay out, by any means, his roster of pacts illustrates the broad ambitions the pharma giant has had over the last 5 years — capped by the $74 billion Celgene buyout.

On Thursday, we learned that Biondi had exited the company. And Chris Dokomajilar at DealForma came up with the complete breakdown on every buyout, licensing pact and product purchase Bristol-Myers forged during his tenure in charge of the BD team at one of the busiest companies in biopharma.

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Arie Belldegrun (Photo: Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Ju­ry finds Gilead li­able for $585M and big roy­al­ties in Kite CAR-T patent case

A Kite deal that’s already become a burden on Gilead’s back just got heavier as a California jury has ruled Gilead must pay Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sloan Kettering $585 million plus a 27.6% royalty for patent infringement committed by its subsidiary. The ruling is almost certain to be appealed.

Kite Pharma — founded by Arie Belldegrun, now focused on a next-gen CAR-T company — has been facing a lawsuit since the day its first CAR–T therapy won approval in October, 2017. Juno Therapeutics and Sloan Kettering filed a complaint saying Kite had copied its technology. Gilead acquired Kite in June of that year for $11.9 billion.  Juno was acquired the following year by Celgene for $9 billion, before Celgene was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2019.

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FDA ex­pert pan­el unan­i­mous­ly rec­om­mends ap­proval for Hori­zon Ther­a­peu­tics eye drug

An FDA advisory committee noted with concern a small safety database but unanimously endorsed a Horizon Therapeutics drug for a rare eye autoimmune disease that can blind patients: teprotumumab for thyroid eye disease (TED).

“It was a pretty easy vote,” said Erica Brittain, an NIH biostatistician and one of the 12 panelists on FDA’s Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee.

Paul Biondi (File photo)

Bris­tol-My­er­s' strat­e­gy, BD chief Paul Bion­di ex­it­ed the com­pa­ny — just ahead of the $74B Cel­gene deal close

Paul Biondi, who orchestrated billions of dollars in deals for Bristol-Myers Squibb over the 5 years he’s run their business development team, has exited the company. Biondi left last month, according to a company spokesperson, in pursuit of another — unspecified — external opportunity.

After 17 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Paul Biondi, Head of Strategy and Business Development, decided to leave the company to pursue an external opportunity. The company wishes him well in his new endeavors. Bristol-Myers Squibb  is actively searching for Paul’s successor, and will make an announcement, as appropriate.

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Arie Belldegrun at UKBIO 2019. Shai Dolev for Endpoints News

Kite Phar­ma's ex-CEO con­tra­dicts founder as CAR-T patent tri­al heats up, with con­flict­ing val­u­a­tions

Two days after Kite Pharma founder Arie Belldegrun told a federal courtroom that a meeting he had with a Memorial Sloan Kettering executive wasn’t about licensing their immunotherapy patent, Kite’s ex-CEO Aya Jakobovits said it was.

The admission came Tuesday during cross-examination in a patent infringement case that features two of the biggest cancer biotechs and some of the most well-known names in American medicine.

Jakobovits initially said she was not in attendance, didn’t know it was going to happen and didn’t know what took place, according to Law360. But then the plaintiff’s lawyer handed her a document – whose contents were not publicly revealed – and asked again if she learned after-the-fact that the meeting involved a potential patent license.

“Yes,” Jakobovits eventually said.

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On the heels of promis­ing MCL da­ta, Kite hus­tles its 2nd CAR-T to the FDA as the next big race in the field draws to the fin­ish line

Three days after Gilead’s Kite subsidiary showed off stellar data on their number 2 CAR-T KTE-X19 at ASH, the executive team has pivoted straight to the FDA with a BLA filing and a shot at a near-term approval.

In a small, 74-patient Phase II trial reported out at the beginning of the week, investigators tracked a 93% response rate with two out of three mantle cell lymphoma patients experiencing a complete response.

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