Amgen, Ipsen vet moves up the ladder with Coherus' anti-PD-1 awaiting PDUFA; It takes a village to replace Frank Clyburn at Merck's Human Health business
After decades in the biopharma industry, Paul Reider is now in his first C-suite role as chief commercial officer. While he has been at Coherus BioSciences since last year, he officially started his new job on Jan. 1, and it was publicly announced on Tuesday.
The appointment will place Reider right in the thicket of the biggest issues in cancer drug development. Long a player in the biosimilar world, Coherus spent $150 million last year to license a PD-1 from Shanghai’s Junshi Biosciences, joining up to three other major US companies that promised to undercut the high-priced market for PD-1 inhibitors by bringing in Chinese drugs and selling them well below the price of Keytruda or Opdivo.
Given the complex network of gatekeepers and middlemen that govern which drugs reach patients in the US, that would have been a tall task for any commercial chief. But it just got even taller after the FDA rebuked Eli Lilly last week for trying get a PD-1 approved based on Chinese data alone, suggesting Coherus and others might not even reach market.
In other words, Reider will have his work cut out for him.
Reider credits his mom’s influence as a nurse for getting him into biotech originally — and meeting two people from a Kansas City-based pharma company that got bought out by Hoechst AG back in the mid 1990s before ultimately winding up as part of Sanofi.
It was here, after he graduated from Bowling Green State University with his MBA and as he was spending a semester at the university teaching an advertising class when a professor was on sabbatical, that his interest was piqued forever.
“The stars aligned for me at that time, because with that job, I was introduced to the folks at Marion Merrill Dow, which was my first entry point into pharmaceuticals,” Reider told Endpoints News. “It was at a faculty industry luncheon. And I sat with these two executives from Marion Merrill Dow at the time, and they were talking to me about the pharmaceutical business. And it was at that moment that it hit me, and it was just like, you know, now I get it. I put it together.”
What he put together was not only his mom’s influence, but as Reider put it, the opportunity to work in a business that provides medicines to improve patient’s lives. And he decided that’s what he wanted to do.
He later landed a job at Amgen as a hospital sales rep in the pharma’s oncology unit. Reider worked for the next 17 years moving up the corporate ladder — ending up as the executive sales director for Amgen’s bone health business unit.
Reider then moved over to Ipsen for a few years, working as a VP in their oncology business unit and then went to Canada to be Ipsen Canada’s general manager until late 2018. Then after he moved into VP of sales at Puma Biotechnology, he then landed at his current company — Coherus.
So, what’s next for him there? Well, in terms of his promotion — he was already doing most of what he normally does in his old job description as EVP of commercial operations and market operations.
“Basically, I had everything except sales and government affairs,” Reider said.
In terms of Coherus, it’s about to be launch time — with Coherus planning to launch two products in 2022 and two more products next year.
This year’s products include two BLAs submitted to the FDA: the first is for the anti-PD-1 antibody toripalimab, with the PDUFA date sometime in April.
There’s also the other BLA for Cimerli, aka CHS-201, a Lucentis biosimilar that Coherus has developed with a target action date in August.
— Paul Schloesser
→ Merck’s Human Health president Frank Clyburn bid farewell on Feb. 1 to take a CEO job at International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), and Rob Davis is refashioning the Human Health leadership, effective Feb. 28. Jannie Oosthuizen will be head of Human Health US after a short stint as president of global marketing for oncology; Merck brought him on board in 2014 after two decades at Eli Lilly. Arpa Garay, Merck’s president of global marketing and digital for oncology who started at the company in 2006, will now be responsible for Human Health global marketing. And a Merck lifer who joined the pharma giant in 1988, Deepak Khanna — the president of Human Health EUCAN (Europe and Canada) — will pinch-hit as president of Human Health International while “Merck is recruiting externally to fill the Human Health International role,” according to the release.
→ Ex-Scholar Rock CEO Tony Kingsley is back, this time as chief executive at Versant-backed protein stabilization startup Stablix. Under the watchful interim eye of Versant partner Carlo Rizzuto, Stablix notched a $63 million Series A round in June 2021, not long before Kingsley decided to part ways with Scholar Rock the following August. Although he kept mostly mum on his departure, the veteran of Biogen and The Medicines Company did tell Endpoints that “the board and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on a few things.”
→ After losing VP, preclinical and translational development Prashant Nambiar to Strand Therapeutics last week, Nick Leschly has gained a CMO at his bluebird bio spinout 2seventy bio, naming Steven Bernstein to the position. Bernstein’s four-year run at Turnstone Biologics began as SVP of clinical R&D and ends as chief translational officer. The former head of integrated science, translational medicine at Bristol Myers Squibb’s T-cell biology acumen is the match Leschly is looking for as he tries to builds a pipeline beyond Abecma. Elsewhere at 2seventy, Susan Abu-Absi — the head of technical development and operations and a Bristol Myers vet in her own right — has been promoted to chief technology and manufacturing officer.
→ At the microcap formerly known as Cerecor — immunology and rare disease biotech Avalo Therapeutics — it’s a next-man-up mentality as CEO Mike Cola and CFO Schond Greenway step aside, while Garry Neil and Chris Sullivan slide into those respective positions. Neil has held positions at such large pharmas as AstraZeneca, Merck KGaA and J&J, and the Arena Pharmaceuticals chairman since 2017 had been the CSO of Avalo for nearly two years. After nearly a year as the biotech’s interim finance chief and his recent stint as chief accounting officer, Sullivan now has the CFO job to himself.
→ In another blow to the pool of available government vaccine experts on hand, John Mascola, the director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center and lead on vaccines for Operation Warp Speed, is retiring at the end of March. News of his departure comes on the heels of NIH director Francis Collins’ exit. Mascola, who’s spent over 20 years working at NIH, was at the center of efforts to develop not only Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, but also the monoclonal antibodies used against Covid-19. Mascola joined the Vaccine Research Center in 2000 and was named director in 2013. Richard Koup, current deputy director for the NIAID vaccine center, will serve as Mascola’s interim successor while the agency searches for a permanent replacement.
→ In what has been a real nail-biter leading up to a second shot at FDA commissioner, famed cardiologist and Duke University clinical trial expert Robert Califf has finally secured the votes he needed for his Senate confirmation. It was a close vote as the final tally came in at 50-46 — with five Democrats and 41 Republicans voting against him and five senators abstaining. Califf had received a final vote of 89-4 when he was confirmed in 2016 as the 22nd commissioner under the Obama administration.
Califf will be taking over for interim FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock, who announced that she will be staying on with the agency in the capacity of principal deputy to Califf.
→ Samantha Truex, the former CEO of short-lived Quench Bio, looks to have said goodbye to her post at Atlas Venture and secured the CEO spot at OrbiMed-led Upstream Bio, according to a Nov. 30 filing in Massachusetts. The former Biogen exec and ex-CBO at Padlock Therapeutics is keeping it hush and under wraps, for now, saying the company is still in stealth.
→ Resilience, a standout in Bob Nelsen’s treasure trove of big ideas that seeks to be the “Amazon Web Services of drug manufacturing,” has tapped Alex Szidon as CBO and Viet Nguyen as chief manufacturing officer. Szidon was most recently the VP and head of business development for gRED at Genentech and has held posts at Merck Research Laboratories and NIBR. Nguyen worked at Genentech himself and moves on from Merck KGaA, where he was SVP of global biotech manufacturing. In September 2021, Resilience inked a deal to manufacture mRNA for Moderna in Canada.
→ Looking to dispense with its consumer healthcare business by potentially selling it to French brethren Mayoly Spindler, Ipsen has selected Catherine Abi-Habib as EVP strategy, transformation, and digital. Abi-Habib, a partner in the life sciences practice at McKinsey since 2010, will replace Dominique Bery —who will be Ipsen’s head of Nordics & Baltics — beginning March 1.
→ Marcia Moore has been named COO over at Cardurion Pharmaceuticals, the cardiovascular disease biotech that received a financial boost from Adam Koppel and Bain to the tune of $300 million last October. Moore, who began her career at Bristol Myers, most recently served as SVP, strategic operations at Arvinas, and she’s also been the director, strategic drug development and project planning for Alexion.
→ David Bharucha has replaced Francis Plat as CMO of cardiovascular disease biotech Milestone Pharmaceuticals, while Plat slides into the role of CSO. Bharucha had been Allergan’s VP, R&D, clinical development before setting off for Milestone, where lead program etripamil is in Phase III studies for patients with paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia and in a Phase II proof-of-concept trial for atrial fibrillation and rapid ventricular rate.
→ Irish drug developer Avadel Pharmaceuticals, which is still awaiting FDA review of its narcolepsy drug FT218, has appointed Douglas Williamson as CMO. Williamson is a 17-year Eli Lilly vet who transitions to Avadel from Lundbeck, where he was SVP, head of US R&D and deputy global CMO. At Parexel from 2012-16, Williamson took on the role of VP, global therapeutic areas.
→ While Tim Walbert’s folks at Horizon have been gearing up for a new rare disease campaign with an assist from the Doug the Pug Foundation and Sing Me A Story Foundation, they’ve also waved in Sean Clayton as EVP and general counsel, effective Feb. 28. For the last 16 years, Clayton has been a partner at California-based law firm Cooley LLP.
→ NeoGenomics, the Florida oncology CRO helmed by ex-Ironwood Pharmaceuticals CEO Mark Mallon, has tapped Shashki Kulkarni as CSO. Kulkarni, who has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the Baylor College of Medicine, had been CSO and SVP of innovation and emerging business at Baylor Genetics.
→ French biotech Transgene has appointed Steven Bloom as VP, CBO. Before joining Transgene, Bloom was SVP at Boston Pharmaceuticals and CBO at Vavotar Life Sciences (which was once NantiBodyFc). Bloom also spent 18 years at Eli Lilly in sales/marketing and corporate affairs.
→ Lots to straighten out at immuno-oncology player Portage Biotech out of Westport, CT: Brian Wiley has signed on as CBO and Joseph Ciaverella grabs the newly created role of chief accounting officer. Wiley, an oncology marketing guru at Aventis, Millennium and Celgene, became a strategic advisor at Portage last summer and he’s also been chief commercial officer and head of business development at NewLink Genetics. Ciaverella had served as a financial consultant at Portage since 2020, and once upon a time he was also the CFO at New York Medical and telecommunications company AboveNet.
We don’t stop there: Portage founder Jim Mellon, Bristol Myers vet Linda Kosick and Torreya Capital co-founder Mark Simon have all joined the board of directors.
→ Trying to push two candidates toward the clinic — one for pemphigus vulgaris, the other for celiac disease — German biotech Topas Therapeutics has enlisted Cristina de Min as CMO. de Min spent 14 years as an executive at Roche, where she served as life cycle leader for Actemra as well as medical director of Roche’s affiliate in Italy. After her time at Roche, she served for nine years as CMO at Novimmune until it was purchased by Sobi.
→ French cancer biotech Diaccurate, a relative unknown that in-licensed a PAM inhibitor from Merck KGaA in September and has renamed it DIACC3010, has welcomed Laurence Riot Lamotte as CFO. Lamotte had spent nearly a decade as the finance chief for IntegraGen and started out with the audit department at Deloitte in the 1980s.
→ Oxford, UK-based “dark genome” biotech Nucleome Therapeutics has installed Nigel Clark as CBO. Clark spent more than eight years at Kymab, part of Paul Hudson’s buyout bonanza at Sanofi where he claimed the eczema drug KY1005 in a bolt-on deal valued at $1.1 billion upfront. Clark, who was Kymab’s SVP of business development, has been a business chief before at Syntaxin (bought by Ipsen in 2013).
→ Valérie, call on me: Trying to cross the goal line with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A candidate PXT3003, Paris-based Pharnext has brought in Valérie Worrall as CFO after several critical appointments last year, including CMO Burkhard Blank. A 17-year financial alum for Novartis, Worrall was previously the finance chief for EOS Imaging.
→ While some things, such as manufacturing plans and overall business model, remain opaque in Synthego’s new $200 million Series E round, one clear thing is the new hiring of Avi Raval as CFO. Raval joins the brother duo-founded company, which is also being advised by Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, from Perella Weinberg Partners, where he served as COO. Prior to that, Raval had a 7-year stint with JP Morgan.
→ Zynerba Pharmaceuticals has tagged on Albert Parker as chief legal officer and corporate secretary — taking over the mantle from Suzanne Hanlon, who is retiring. Parker most recently served as COO and corporate secretary of Oncocyte and before that served in roles at GC Legal Advisors, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis.
→ Quantum-Si, which came out of stealth last June in a reverse merger deal, has tapped its founder Jonathan Rothberg as interim CEO, taking over from outgoing CEO John Stark, as the company searches for a permanent successor. Rothberg’s experience spans roles at 454 Life Sciences, RainDance Technologies, Butterfly Network and Hyperfine Research.
→ Agilon health has promoted Heidi Hittner to the position of chief experience officer and Claire Mulhearn to chief communications and public affairs officer. Lisa Dombro left the role of chief experience and innovation officer to become chief of strategic growth at Upstream Rehabilitation. Hittner joined agilon in January 2019 as SVP, provider strategies and growth. Prior to that, she was with Fresenius Medical Care North America and Concentra. Meanwhile, Mulhearn came aboard the Austin, TX-based company in August 2021 after stints as senior external affairs roles at Merck.
→ Kleanthis Xanthopoulos’ crew at iPSC NK cell player Shoreline Biosciences has expanded by three: Pfizer vet Lisa Ann Melia (VP, clinical operations) has held the same role at Regulus Therapeutics, MEI Pharma and Indaptus Therapeutics; Pinky Doshi (VP, regulatory affairs) had previously devoted more than eight years to Bristol Myers and was the global regulatory lead for Abecma; and Paschalis Sideras (VP, discovery immunobiology) is an AstraZeneca R&D vet who hails from the Biomedical Research Foundation (BRFAA) of the Academy of Athens, where he was director of the Centre for Clinical, Experimental Surgery and Translational Research.
→ London-based my mhealth — a developer of digital health programs — has reeled in Joel Sangerman as CCO. Prior to his new stint, Sangerman held a variety of roles including CCO of Click Therapeutics, VP of market development for Walgreens and director of reimbursement for J&J.
→ BriaCell Therapeutics has made the addition of Giuseppe Del Priore as CMO of the company. Del Priore previously served as CMO of TYME Technologies, had a stint at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and held faculty positions at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine and New York University School of Medicine.
→ Amy Locke has been appointed VP, head of human resources at Adicet Bio, which unveiled data for its off-the-shelf T cell therapy AD-001 a couple months ago. While with Allakos, Locke served as executive director, talent acquisition and optimization; she’s also spent 13 years at Bristol Myers and another 11 years at Genentech in an assortment of capacities.
→ Jean Bennett’s new gene therapy play Opus Genetics, which debuted in September 2021 with help from the RD Fund, has recruited Brian Leising as VP, manufacturing. Leising ventures off to the Penn spinout from working with Zolgensma at Novartis Gene Therapies as director of manufacturing quality. His Big Pharma experience includes a stint at Pfizer as director of clinical gene therapy manufacturing at the drug giant’s Bamboo facility in North Carolina.
→ Vaxart has poached Edward Berg from BioMarin, naming him SVP and general counsel. Berg comes to the San Francisco vaccine outfit after three years as deputy general counsel for JJ Bienaimé and his team. Berg, the former VP of legal at Sandoz, brings plenty of Big Pharma experience to the table from Merck, Bristol Myers (senior corporate counsel, R&D) and Sanofi (deputy general counsel, pharmaceutical operations).
→ Palisade Bio — not to be confused with Néstle’s year-long Palisade trial for the world’s first-ever approved peanut allergy medicine — has tapped Robert McRae as SVP, operations and strategic development. McRae joins with experience from his time at Viracta Therapeutics, where he served as VP, operations and strategic alliance.
→ Resolution Therapeutics, focused on treating life-threatening inflammatory organ damage, has signed on new execs to the team with the appointments of Victor Dillard as VP corporate development and Lorna Peers as VP finance. Dillard hops aboard with experience from his times at Flagship Pioneering, Desktop Genetics and Owkin. Meanwhile, Peers hails from Censo Biotechnologies, where she most recently served as CFO.
→ Cannabinoid player InMed Pharmaceuticals, which filed for a $12 million IPO pitch in 2020, has brought on Gerard Griffin III as VP of sales and marketing at its subsidiary BayMedica. Griffin comes aboard from cannabinoid producer Creo Ingredients, where he served as VP of sales and business development.
→ San Diego-based DNA sequencing player Element Biosciences — which unveiled a supersized Series C totaling $276 million last summer — has brought on Shawn Levy as SVP of applications and scientific affairs. Before joining the squad at Element, the adjunct faculty member at the University of Alabama-Birmingham was CSO at Discovery Life Sciences.
→ Harlan Waksal’s next steps after Sanofi swept in to buy Kadmon take him to Lyra Therapeutics, where he’s been named executive chairman. Sam Waksal founded Kadmon in 2009 following his release from prison, later ceding his CEO responsibilities to his brother. Harlan then guided the company to the FDA’s approval of chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD) drug Rezurock last summer. As the pandemic took root in the spring of 2020, Lyra — co-founded by Bob Langer — entered the fray on Nasdaq with a $56 million IPO.
→ Ex-Genentech CEO Ian Clark has collected another board appointment and it’s with South San Francisco’s Asher Biotherapeutics, the IL-2 biotech that launched with a $55 million round in March 2021. In addition to Asher Bio, Clark — who led Genentech from 2010-16 — sits on the boards of Takeda, Agios, Guardant Health and Olema Oncology.
→ Clark’s fellow board member at Guardant Health, Immunocore CEO Bahija Jallal, has been named to the board of directors at Bing Yao’s latest endeavor, ArriVent Biopharma, which raised up to $150 million in its Series A last June. ArriVent is targeting EGFR-mutated non-small cell lung cancer with its lead asset, furmonertinib.
→ Former Moderna CFO Lorence Kim is making his way onto the board of directors of Cowen. Kim currently serves as a venture partner at Third Rock Ventures and has held roles in the past at Goldman Sachs.
→ Novartis hematology vet Kristen Harrington-Smith has earned a seat on the board of directors at eFFECTOR Therapeutics, which changed tactics with lead candidate tomivosertib a couple weeks back. Harrington-Smith made a Peer Review appearance in November when she was named chief commercial officer at ImmunoGen.
→ San Diego-based Versant spinout Pipeline Therapeutics, a neuroregeneration biotech that racked up $80 million in a Series C a year ago, has added Eef Schimmelpennink to the board of directors. Schimmelpennink is the CEO of Lenz Therapeutics, a company once known as Presbyopia Therapies that also has Versant connections.
→ Miami cell therapy biotech Longeveron has appointed Todd Girolamo to the board of directors. Girolamo is chief legal officer, SVP of corporate development and corporate secretary for Caladrius Biosciences and has been a part of its team for 11 years.