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.

Roger Perlmutter. Merck via webcast

'Our lega­cy mat­ter­s': Mer­ck maps out Keytru­da king­dom while spot­light­ing ad­vances in vac­cines, hos­pi­tal care

“You can for the mo­ment stop tak­ing notes. You can put down your pens and your pad. I have no slides. I have no sub­stan­tive da­ta. I have no pitch.”

So be­gan Roger Perl­mut­ter’s brief ap­pear­ance on­stage at Mer­ck’s first in­vestor day in five years, where he dived in­to the com­pa­ny’s his­to­ry dat­ing back to 1933. The first em­ploy­ees at Mer­ck Re­search Lab­o­ra­to­ries, hand­picked by founder George W. Mer­ck, were crit­i­cal to Mer­ck’s abil­i­ty to achieve clin­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess.

How small- to mid-sized biotechs can adopt pa­tient cen­tric­i­ty in their on­col­o­gy tri­als

By Lucy Clos­sick Thom­son, Se­nior Di­rec­tor of On­col­o­gy Pro­ject Man­age­ment, Icon

Clin­i­cal tri­als in on­col­o­gy can be cost­ly and chal­leng­ing to man­age. One fac­tor that could re­duce costs and re­duce bar­ri­ers is har­ness­ing the pa­tient voice in tri­al de­sign to help ac­cel­er­ate pa­tient en­roll­ment. Now is the time to adopt pa­tient-cen­tric strate­gies that not on­ly fo­cus on pa­tient needs, but al­so can main­tain cost ef­fi­cien­cy.

Eli Casdin, Casdin Capital

Eli Cas­din backs Codex­is' plat­form tech with $50M eq­ui­ty buy

About a month af­ter Codex­is notched a deal with No­var­tis $NVS, the Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­ny $CDXS on Thurs­day said long-time in­vestor Cas­din Cap­i­tal is putting up $50 mil­lion in a pri­vate place­ment, which puts the New York-based in­vest­ment firm in con­trol of more than 5% of the pro­tein en­gi­neer­ing play­er’s stock.

Eli Cas­din start­ed his epony­mous in­vest­ment firm in 2012 and dates his re­la­tion­ship with Codex­is back to at least a decade. About three years ago, Cas­din Cap­i­tal be­gan in­vest­ing in the in­dus­tri­al biotech com­pa­ny, af­ter it piv­ot­ed its fo­cus to the life sci­ences — un­der the aus­pices of new chief John Nicols — away from the en­er­gy in­dus­try.

In­vestors pony up $476M for the lat­est round of biotech IPOs to hit the Street

Three biotechs — and a genome se­quenc­ing play­er — have caught the lat­est tide to the Gold Coast of IPOs, round­ing out the first half of 2019 with 23 new drug de­vel­op­ers mak­ing it on Nas­daq.

Most of these com­pa­nies filed their IPOs al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly, though we’re still wait­ing on word of fel­low class­mate Bridge­Bio’s pric­ing af­ter CEO Neil Ku­mar set the terms at $14 to $16 a share on Mon­day in search of a $240 mil­lion (or so) wind­fall. If he’s suc­cess­ful, that would take the one-week haul past the $700 mil­lion mark, a fresh sign that in­vestors’ en­thu­si­asm for new­ly coined pub­lic biotechs hasn’t cooled.

John Reed at JPM 2019. Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News

Sanofi's John Reed con­tin­ues to re­or­ga­nize R&D, cut­ting 466 jobs while boost­ing can­cer, gene ther­a­py re­search

The R&D reorganization inside Sanofi is continuing, more than a year after the pharma giant brought in John Reed to head the research arm of the Paris-based company.
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The top 10 block­buster drugs in the late-stage pipeline — Eval­u­ate adds 6 new ther­a­pies to heavy-hit­ter list

Vertex comes in for a substantial amount of criticism for its no-holds-barred tactical approach toward wresting the price it wants for its commercial drugs in Europe. But the flip side of that coin is a highly admired R&D and commercial operation that regularly wins kudos from analysts for their ability to engineer greater cash flow from the breakthrough drugs they create.

Both aspects needed for success in this business are on display in the program backing Vertex’s triple for cystic fibrosis. VX-659/VX-445 + Tezacaftor + Ivacaftor — it’s been whittled down to 445 now — was singled out by Evaluate Pharma as the late-stage therapy most likely to win the crown for drug sales in 5 years, with a projected peak revenue forecast of $4.3 billion.

The latest annual list, which you can see here in their latest world preview, includes a roster of some of the most closely watched development programs in biopharma. And Evaluate has added 6 must-watch experimental drugs to the top 10 as drugs fail or go on to a first approval. With apologies to the list maker, I revamped this to rank the top 10 by projected 2024 sales, instead of Evaluate's net present value rankings.

It's how we roll at Endpoints News.

Here is a quick summary of the rest of the top 10:

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Robert Forrester, Verastem

Ve­rastem CEO For­rester steps to the ex­it as the board hunts com­mer­cial-savvy ex­ec for the be­lea­guered biotech

Robert For­rester is step­ping down as CEO of Ve­rastem On­col­o­gy $VSTM just 8 months af­ter the com­pa­ny nabbed an ap­proval for du­velis­ib, a PI3K drug with a sto­ried past — and what ap­pears as not much of a fu­ture.

The biotech put out word this morn­ing that For­rester will take an ad­vi­so­ry role with Ve­rastem while COO Dan Pa­ter­son steps up to take charge of the lead­er­ship team and the board looks around for a new CEO.

Ken Frazier appears before the Senate Committee on Finance for a hearing on prescription drug pricing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, February 26, 2019. Chris Kleponis for CNP via AP Images

Who’s next in line to suc­ceed Ken Fra­zier as CEO of the Keytru­da-blessed Mer­ck?

When Merck waved off a looming forced retirement for Ken Frazier last September, the board cited flexibility in CEO transition as a key factor in the decision. Having Frazier — who’s also chairman of the company — around beyond his 65th birthday in 2019 would ensure they install the best person at the best time, they said.

The board has evidently begun that process with a clear preference for internal candidates, sources told Bloomberg. CFO Robert Davis, chief marketing officer Michael Nally, and chief commercial officer Frank Clyburn are all in the running, according to an insider.

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In starved an­tibi­ot­ic field, Melin­ta soars as FDA grants speedy drug re­view

Such is the state of af­fairs in an­tibi­ot­ic land that the FDA agree­ing to pri­or­i­ty re­view an ap­pli­ca­tion to ex­pand the use of an an­tibi­ot­ic can rock­et up a stock more than two-fold.

On Wednes­day, Melin­ta Ther­a­peu­tics said its ap­proved an­tibi­ot­ic Baxdela had been grant­ed pri­or­i­ty re­view for use in com­mu­ni­ty-ac­quired bac­te­r­i­al pneu­mo­nia (CAPB). The FDA is ex­pect­ed to make its de­ci­sion by Oc­to­ber 24. Shares of the Con­necti­cut drug­mak­er $ML­NT cat­a­pult­ed, clos­ing up near­ly 224% at $6.41.