AstraZeneca files lawsuit against former exec as he jumps to GSK
AstraZeneca and GSK are once again wrangling over talent.
The British pharma giant has filed suit against former VP and head of investor relations Chris Sheldon as he prepares to start a new job at its rival next month. AstraZeneca argued in a London court filing that Sheldon would be violating a non-compete agreement, which he was paid more than $774,000 in shares to sign back in 2021, Bloomberg reported.
Sheldon worked at AstraZeneca for more than 18 years, starting as a research scientist back in 2004 and climbing to global head of business development and licensing for oncology R&D, and eventually, head of IR. He resigned earlier this month, effective immediately, according to Law360.
A GSK spokesperson confirmed to Endpoints News on Tuesday that Sheldon’s headed there to become the next senior VP of its commercial portfolio. While the company declined to comment on the AstraZeneca case, the spokesperson added that GSK “committed to leveraging business development as a tool to secure access to external innovation, help shape the portfolio and further strengthen our late-stage pipeline.”
Sheldon also declined to comment, though he added: “I deny what is alleged or any wrong doing.”
AstraZeneca was not immediately available for an interview.
This isn’t the first time AstraZeneca has taken a matter like this to court. Back in 2017, the pharma giant sued former exec Luke Miels, who was poached by GSK earlier that year to head up its global pharmaceuticals business. Miels had worked with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot for more than a decade at Aventis, Roche and AstraZeneca. He served as an executive VP at AstraZeneca for just over three years before jumping to GSK, where he’s now chief commercial officer.
AstraZeneca and GSK settled in court, with Miels taking a “gardening leave” (meaning he was ordered to stay away from the company but remained on the payroll), until joining GSK in September 2017. However, Miels accused Soriot of threatening him over his visa during the resignation dispute, according to a report by The Times in London.
Around the same time that GSK hired Sheldon, it also poached former AstraZeneca exec Garrett Rhyasen as its new VP of oncology search and evaluation.
Soriot said on the company’s Q2 call a few weeks ago that he expects the next couple of years to be “extremely rich in clinical results,” with more than 20 Phase III readouts slated for next year.
The company recently celebrated two new approvals for Enhertu, as well as some positive Phase III results in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.