Andy Boy­er joins Te­va ex­o­dus; Achao­gen shuf­fles ex­ec­u­tive line­up

Te­va’s US chief Andy Boy­er has re­signed and is leav­ing the com­pa­ny at the end of Q1 next year, ac­cord­ing to Wells Far­go’s David Mar­ris. It has been a tur­bu­lent week at the Is­raeli gener­ics busi­ness, as new CEO Kåre Schultz un­veiled a mas­sive re­or­ga­ni­za­tion plan Thurs­day, which in­volves ax­ing 14,000 work­ers, shut­ter­ing R&D and man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties and rad­i­cal­ly par­ing down $3 bil­lion in costs glob­al­ly. In a sig­nal of the in­tense fall­out, on Wednes­day, for­mer chair­man and in­ter­im CEO Yitzhak Pe­ter­burg abrupt­ly re­signed with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

→ Next March, John Mar­tin of Gilead will tran­si­tion from ex­ec­u­tive chair­man to chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors. Mar­tin is a vet­er­an of the com­pa­ny $GILD, hav­ing served as CEO for two decades be­fore John Mil­li­gan took over. The brief an­nounce­ment did not cite a rea­son for the change, but it can be seen as a move to lessen op­er­a­tional in­volve­ment with the com­pa­ny in prepa­ra­tion for re­tire­ment.

→ Not on­ly did CMO David Apelian sell off his Achillion stock ear­li­er this month, he is now plan­ning to ex­it the New Haven, CT-based com­pa­ny at the end of the year.

→ Play­ing slow and steady, Achao­gen has an­nounced an ex­ec­u­tive switch up in the ex­ec­u­tive ranks in prepa­ra­tion for the ap­proval of its first drug, pla­zomicin. Pres­i­dent and COO Blake Wise will move to the CEO role, while cur­rent CEO Ken­neth Hillan takes the pres­i­dent po­si­tion and heads up R&D. One of the few late-stage play­ers in new an­tibi­otics, the biotech $AKAO has shown enough promise to gain in­vest­ment from the Gates Foun­da­tion. “… Blake’s ex­pe­ri­ence scal­ing and lead­ing com­mer­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions is per­fect­ly suit­ed to max­i­miz­ing this stage of growth, and val­ue, of the com­pa­ny,” said board chair­man Bryan Roberts in a state­ment. “At the same time, we are ex­treme­ly for­tu­nate to have Ken­neth in a role that ful­ly lever­ages his pas­sion and suc­cess at the in­ter­sec­tion of pre­clin­i­cal re­search and clin­i­cal drug de­vel­op­ment.”

→ Af­ter two decades at Glax­o­SmithK­line de­vel­op­ment busi­ness and pur­su­ing deals, Damien McDe­vitt has joined Aca­dia Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $ACAD as SVP, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment. The San Diego-based biotech is study­ing oth­er in­di­ca­tions for its Parkin­son’s drug Nu­plazid (pi­ma­vanserin), but al­so look­ing to “ex­plore the po­ten­tial for ex­pand­ing” their cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem port­fo­lio. In the same state­ment, the com­pa­ny not­ed that Jim Nash, SVP, tech­nol­o­gy de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions, will be re­tir­ing from the com­pa­ny as of Jan­u­ary 2018. Bob Mis­chler will pick up Nash’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in a new role.

Pa­tri­cia Zil­liox is the new CEO at French biotech Eye­ven­sys, fol­low­ing pre­de­ces­sor Raffy Kazand­jian’s low pro­file de­par­ture in No­vem­ber (ac­cord­ing to LinkedIn). An oph­thalmic ex­pert, Zil­liox has had plen­ty of time to learn about the Paris-based com­pa­ny since join­ing its board in 2016. Pre­vi­ous­ly, she was chief drug de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer of the Clin­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tute at the Foun­da­tion Fight­ing Blind­ness in Co­lum­bia, MD. Now, she is tasked with ad­vanc­ing Eye­ven­sys’ non-vi­ral gene ther­a­pies.

Aveo On­col­o­gy $AVEO has ap­point­ed Nikhil Mehta as its se­nior VP, reg­u­la­to­ry and qual­i­ty as­sur­ance. With big names like Bax­al­ta, Mer­ck and Shire un­der his belt, Mehta has a broad man­date to over­see all as­pects of the com­pa­ny’s reg­u­la­to­ry, qual­i­ty or tech­ni­cal op­er­a­tions. His ap­point­ment marks an­oth­er step to­wards the com­pa­ny’s quest for a do-over, as its FDA-re­ject­ed drug tivozanib scored an OK in the EU back in Au­gust.

→ En­ter­ing a new phase of growth, Kalei­do Bio­sciences has named Gen­zyme vet Al­i­son Law­ton as its pres­i­dent and COO. Af­ter a 20-plus-year run at Gen­zyme, Law­ton test­ed wa­ters at small­er biotechs like Au­ra Bio­sciences and Ova­Science be­fore join­ing the Flag­ship Ven­tures-backed start­up zoom­ing in­to the mi­cro­bio­me.

→ Rapid di­ag­nos­tics de­vel­op­er At­las Ge­net­ics has brought in Marc Jones as COO and CFO, who will team up with CEO Jef­frey Lu­ber in strate­gic di­rec­tion and ex­e­cu­tion out­side of his main func­tions. Jones and Lu­ber are old part­ners, hav­ing worked to­geth­er at Good Start Ge­net­ics in the ex­act same roles. Af­ter Good Start was ac­quired by In­vi­tae, Lu­ber got the top job at At­las al­most im­me­di­ate­ly. Now that the young com­pa­ny has ad­vanced from clin­i­cal proof of con­cept to a com­mer­cial phase, he is count­ing on his friend’s wide range of CFO ex­pe­ri­ence which al­so in­cludes T2 Biosys­tems and Ivenix.

→ Hav­ing worked on the fi­nan­cial side of things, An­drew Oh is giv­ing biotech a try as the CFO at Ru­bius Ther­a­peu­tics. An in­vestor and an­a­lyst, Oh was most re­cent­ly the chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Leerink Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­vest­ments. “Ru­bius is one of the most ex­cit­ing biotech com­pa­nies I have seen in my in­vest­ing ca­reer and has the po­ten­tial to trans­form care for peo­ple suf­fer­ing from a broad range of se­ri­ous dis­eases,” said Oh in a state­ment. “I am hon­ored to be part of a team ded­i­cat­ed to pi­o­neer­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of cel­lu­lar ther­a­pies and the de­vel­op­ment of break­through ther­a­pies for pa­tients in need.”

→ Sin­ga­pore’s Tes­sa Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Desmond Lim as CFO. Lim joins the biotech, which fo­cus­es on cel­lu­lar im­munother­a­py for sol­id tu­mors, from out­sourc­ing com­pa­ny Hep­ta­gon.

→ At Flex­ion Ther­a­peu­tics, Scott Kel­ley has been pro­mot­ed as CMO to suc­ceed Yamo Deniz. Kel­ley moves up from VP of med­ical af­fairs, a po­si­tion he took af­ter a stint at Sanofi over­see­ing glob­al da­ta. A new as­set un­der his watch will be non-opi­oid painkiller for the knee FX-201, which Flex­ion $FLXN just ac­quired from GeneQuine Bio­ther­a­peu­tics.

→ In de­vel­op­ing AML drug Id­hi­fa, Agios had en­joyed work­ing with Cel­gene vet Jack­ie Fouse so much that it has brought her on­to its board of di­rec­tors. Since leav­ing Cel­gene, Fouse had start­ed run­ning Der­ma­vant — an­oth­er “vant” by Vivek Ra­maswamy that works on med­ical der­ma­tol­ogy.

Im­mune Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals has re­cruit­ed John Zhang from Tesaro as VP of R&D. Zhang’s fo­cus will be on non-clin­i­cal as­pects of drug de­vel­op­ment, but will al­so pro­vide sup­port for clin­i­cal, reg­u­la­to­ry and man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Im­ple­ment­ing re­silience in the clin­i­cal tri­al sup­ply chain

Since January 2020, the clinical trials ecosystem has quickly evolved to manage roadblocks impeding clinical trial integrity, and patient care and safety amid a global pandemic. Closed borders, reduced air traffic and delayed or canceled flights disrupted global distribution, revealing how flexible logistics and supply chains can secure the timely delivery of clinical drug products and therapies to sites and patients.

Pascal Soriot (AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: As­traZeneca, Ox­ford on the de­fen­sive as skep­tics dis­miss 70% av­er­age ef­fi­ca­cy for Covid-19 vac­cine

On the third straight Monday that the world wakes up to positive vaccine news, AstraZeneca and Oxford are declaring a new Phase III milestone in the fight against the pandemic. Not everyone is convinced they will play a big part, though.

With an average efficacy of 70%, the headline number struck analysts as less impressive than the 95% and 94.5% protection that Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have boasted in the past two weeks, respectively. But the British partners say they have several other bright spots going for their candidate. One of the two dosing regimens tested in Phase III showed a better profile, bringing efficacy up to 90%; the adenovirus vector-based vaccine requires minimal refrigeration, which may mean easier distribution; and AstraZeneca has pledged to sell it at a fraction of the price that the other two vaccine developers are charging.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Vas Narasimhan's 'Wild Card' drugs: No­var­tis CEO high­lights po­ten­tial jack­pots, as well as late-stage stars, in R&D pre­sen­ta­tion

Novartis is always one of the industry’s biggest R&D spenders. As they often do toward the end of each year, company execs are highlighting the drugs they expect will most likely be winners in 2021.

And they’re also dreaming about some potential big-time lottery tickets.

As part of its annual investor presentation Tuesday, where the company allows investors and analysts to virtually schmooze with the bigwigs, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan will outline what he thinks are the pharma’s “Wild Cards.” The slate of five experimental drugs are those that Novartis hopes can be high-risk, high-reward entrants into the market over the next half-decade or so, and cover a wide range of indications.

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The ad­u­canum­ab co­nun­drum: The PhI­II failed a clear reg­u­la­to­ry stan­dard, but no one is cer­tain what that means any­more at the FDA

Eighteen days ago, virtually all of the outside experts on an FDA adcomm got together to mug the agency’s Billy Dunn and the Biogen team when they presented their upbeat assessment on aducanumab. But here we are, more than 2 weeks later, and the ongoing debate over that Alzheimer’s drug’s fate continues unabated.

Instead of simply ruling out any chance of an approval, the logical conclusion based on what we heard during that session, a series of questionable approvals that preceded the controversy over the agency’s recent EUA decisions has come back to haunt the FDA, where the power of precedent is leaving an opening some experts believe can still be exploited by the big biotech.

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Pur­due Phar­ma pleads guilty in fed­er­al Oxy­Con­tin probe, for­mal­ly rec­og­niz­ing it played a part in the opi­oid cri­sis

Purdue Pharma, the producer of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, admitted Tuesday that, yes, it did contribute to America’s opioid epidemic.

The drugmaker formally pleaded guilty to three criminal charges, the AP reported, including getting in the way of the DEA’s efforts to combat the crisis, failing to prevent the painkillers from ending up on the black market and encouraging doctors to write more painkiller prescriptions through two methods: paying them in a speakers program and directing a medical records company to send them certain patient information. Purdue’s plea deal calls for $8.3 billion in criminal fines and penalties, but the company is only liable for a fraction of that total — $225 million.

John Maraganore, Alnylam CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Al­ny­lam gets the green light from the FDA for drug #3 — and CEO John Maraganore is ready to roll

Score another early win at the FDA for Alnylam.

The FDA put out word today that the agency has approved its third drug, lumasiran, for primary hyperoxaluria type 1, better known as PH1. The news comes just 4 days after the European Commission took the lead in offering a green light.

An ultra rare genetic condition, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore says there are only some 1,000 to 1,700 patients in the US and Europe at any particular point. The patients, mostly kids, suffer from an overproduction of oxalate in the liver that spurs the development of kidney stones, right through to end stage kidney disease.

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Bob Nelsen (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Bob Nelsen rais­es $800M and re­cruits a star-stud­ded board to build the 'Fox­con­n' of biotech

Bob Nelsen spent his pandemic spring in his Seattle home, talking on the phone with Luciana Borio, the scientist who used to run pandemic preparedness on the National Security Council, and fuming with her about the dire state of American manufacturing.

Companies were rushing to develop vaccines and antibodies for the new virus, but even if they succeeded, there was no immediate supply chain or infrastructure to mass-produce them in a way that could make a dent in the outbreak.

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Carl Hansen, AbCellera CEO (University of British Columbia)

From a pair of Air Jor­dans to a $200M-plus IPO, Carl Hansen is craft­ing an overnight R&D for­tune fu­eled by Covid-19

Back in the summer of 2019, Carl Hansen left his post as a professor at the University of British Columbia to go full time as the CEO at a low-profile antibody shop he had founded called AbCellera.

As biotech CEOs go, even after a fundraise Hansen wasn’t paid a whole heck of a lot. He ended up earning right at $250,000 for the year. His compensation package included a loan — which he later paid back — and a pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes. His newly-hired CFO, Andrew Booth, got a sweeter pay packet than that — which included his own pair of Air Jordans.

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In fi­nal days at Mer­ck, Roger Perl­mut­ter bets big on a lit­tle-known Covid-19 treat­ment

Roger Perlmutter is spending his last days at Merck, well, spending.

Two weeks after snapping up the antibody-drug conjugate biotech VelosBio for $2.75 billion, Merck announced today that it had purchased OncoImmune and its experimental Covid-19 drug for $425 million. The drug, known as CD24Fc, appeared to reduce the risk of respiratory failure or death in severe Covid-19 patients by 50% in a 203-person Phase III trial, OncoImmune said in September.

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