Alexion’s Hantson poaches Biogen CFO Clancy as buzz of a looming pipeline shakeup heats up

Paul Clancy

You can count one more top exec at Biogen $BIIB out the exit as new CEO Michel Vounatsos builds his team at the big biotech. And the departing exec is headed straight to Alexion $ALXN, where Ludwig Hantson has been building his own team with an eye to stripping the pipeline ahead of a planned refurbishment.

This time the exec on the move is Paul Clancy, CFO at Biogen during the last eventful decade at the big biotech.

Clancy survived the bumpy departure of Jim Mullen in 2010 and helped steer the company as it launched a megablockbuster flagship drug in Tecfidera under then CEO George Scangos.

Now Clancy is taking on the top finance job at Alexion at a time Hantson has gutted the old crew and brought in a whole new bunch to steer a different course. Just a few weeks ago Hantson saw off R&D chief Martin Mackay as well as CFO David Anderson, who had been in that job only six months. Clare Carmichael, the head of human resources, left June 1 along with chief commercial officer Carsten Thiel.

Biogen’s loss is Alexion’s gain. Biogen saw its shares drop 3% Wednesday morning, while Alexion stock surged 7%.

Alexion has undergone a brain transplant after the former CEO and CFO came under scrutiny for the way the company was pushing early sales of Soliris to meet its numbers. Now Hantson is also making it clear that the house cleaning in the executive suite will be followed by a cleanup in R&D as well.

Ludwig Hantson

Hantson — who has been openly complaining about the state of affairs at Alexion — reportedly turned up at the Goldman Sachs Healthcare Conference yesterday saying he was thinking of writing off Kanuma, which quickly made the rounds on Twitter. Alexion acquired Kanuma in an $8.4 billion buyout of Synageva and has little to show for it as sales fizzled.

ALXN1210 — an anti-C5 antibody that inhibits terminal complement for patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) — was about the only experimental product that earned much respect from Hantson. Hantson also recruited his old R&D chief at Baxalta, John Orloff, to helm the research crew as the company dumps what it doesn’t like and starts to retune the pipeline, just a few years before its mainstay drug Soliris loses patent protection in Europe and the US in 2020 and 2021.

Hantson and Alexion, and now Clancy, don’t have much time if they want to turn the company around before biosimilars start to carve up its franchise.

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