AstraZeneca promotes oncology exec to CMO; Pfizer replaces retiring chief dealmaker as war chest expands
The biggest bright spot for AstraZeneca over the last few years has been its work in oncology, as CEO Pascal Soriot has helped shepherd blockbusters Imfinzi, Lynparza, and Calquence, among other cancer medicines.
One of the top executives from the cancer division is now making the leap to the larger C-suite. The Swedish-British pharma named its oncology chief development officer Cristian Massacesi as the new CMO.
Massacesi, who will continue his role in oncology alongside CMO duties, replaces Ann Taylor, who retired this summer after two years as CMO and two decades at Pfizer, Novartis, AstraZeneca subsidiary MedImmune and ultimately AstraZeneca.
Massacesi is a Pfizer and Novartis veteran himself, coming to AstraZeneca in 2017 after leading an immuno-oncology team at Pfizer. Before joining Pfizer, he led clinical development for P13K and ALK molecules at Novartis. While he was there, the company got the ALK drug Zykadia approved for certain lung cancer patients and, in 2017, the P13K breast cancer drug Piqray followed.
The oncologist will take over medical duties as AstraZeneca continues to try to push its Covid-19 antibodies across the finish line, while developing its next generation of cancer medicines, including follow-on ADCs to their fast-selling breast cancer drug Enhertu alongside Daiichi Sankyo. — Jason Mast
Three days after Pfizer inked its latest billion-dollar buyout, the New York pharma giant announced a successor for their chief dealmaker, CBO John Young, who retires after two years in the role and 34 years at the company. He will be replaced by Aamir Malik, a 24-year veteran of the “Big Three” consulting firm McKinsey, whose pharma division is most famous for having advised Purdue Pharma on how to increase opioid sales.
Malik’s official title will be chief business innovation officer. Although Malik is not mentioned in court documents related to McKinsey’s work with Purdue, he served as head of the pharma division as far back as 2014. McKinsey advised Purdue from 2009 to 2019.
At Pfizer, Malik will have big shoes to fill, and a lot of money to do it. Although Young was not CBO when Pfizer originally signed an mRNA vaccine collaboration with BioNTech back in 2018, he helped broker the expanded deal in winter of 2020 that led to their development of the first Covid-19 vaccine, as well as the various sub-deals and partnerships that helped them expand production to up to 3 billion doses per year.
Of course, all that Covid work has now given Pfizer a sizable war chest to continue its expansion. Malik will have plenty of vaccine revenues to spend as he looks to continue the vision from CEO Albert Bourla, who has promised investors would “see a lot of Phase II, Phase III business development deals that will allow us to bring in-house a lot of potential medicines that could become medicines in this time frame.”
Malik is co-managing partner of McKinsey’s US office and previously led its pharmaceuticals and medical products division. McKinsey’s pharmaceutical division is most well-known for its role in advising Purdue Pharma on how best to sell the Oxycontin. Purdue’s aggressive marketing of the opioid painkiller, beginning in the 1990s, is widely credited with helping start the opioid epidemic in the US.
McKinsey apologized for its work with Purdue and settled lawsuits for nearly $600 million, although it denied wrongdoing. Pfizer deferred questions about Malik’s work at McKinsey to the firm. Endpoints News has reached out and will update accordingly.
While at McKinsey, Malik was also mentioned in a lawsuit over Valeant Pharamaceuticals, the small pharma that made headlines in 2016 after raising the price of two heart drugs 310% and 720% respectively. A Florida lawsuit quoted an email from Malik to the CEO in Valeant in December, 2014 saying those drugs and others “have material pricing potential.” — Jason Mast
→ Running alongside yesterday’s news of its $60 million Series B round led by Vivo Capital, Boston GI biotech Neurogastrx and CEO Jim O’Hara have welcomed three C-suiters: Jim DeTore (CFO), Christophe Arbet-Engels (CMO) and Paul Rogers (CCO). DeTore has previous CFO experience at bluebird bio and Proteostatis Therapeutics with eight additional years under his belt as a finance exec at Ironwood. With plenty of Big Pharma gigs to his credit (Merck, Roche and Sanofi among them), Arbet-Engels has also filled the CMO post at Millendo and Poxel. Finally, Rogers is an Ironwood vet in his own right who was VP of marketing strategy during a portion of his 10-year run at AstraZeneca.
→ A quartet of leadership changes has hit the stage at hematologic disease-focused Disc Medicine — a Cambridge, MA biotech that launched with a $50 million Series A backed by Atlas Venture and Novo Holdings in October 2019 — starting with the promotions of Will Savage to CMO and Jonathan Yu to CBO. Savage first rolled into Disc Medicine a year ago as head of clinical development after a stint as senior medical director at Magenta, while Yu also arrived last summer as SVP, corporate development.
The newcomers to Disc Medicine are Hua Yang (VP of non-clinical development) and Sarah Tuller (VP of regulatory affairs). A Millennium and Bristol Myers Squibb alum, Yang spent a decade at Agios and from 2016-20 was head of DMPK and clinical pharmacology. Tuller moves on from Astellas, where she was senior director of regulatory affairs and medical specialties team lead for the cell therapy/regenerative medicine and mitochondrial dysfunction portfolios.
→ Last year’s “congratulations” have turned into “sorry, we don’t need you anymore” for CMO Andrea Pirzkall at Replimune. An SEC filing indicates that Pirzkall has been “terminated, without cause” on Wednesday, stating that anyone who had reported to her will now report to president Robert Coffin or chief development operations officer Tanya Lewis, who was just hired in May. Peer Review readers may remember that Pirzkall left her role as BeiGene’s executive director of clinical development to join Replimune on Aug. 31, 2020.
→ As Robert Hopkins steps down as CFO at Adamis, David Benedicto — who first joined Adamis in 2014 and has served as controller and chief accounting officer during his tenure with the company — will take over that vacant seat. Benedicto looks to bring a measure of stability to the financial operations at Adamis, which also announced that it hadn’t filed its Form 10-Q to the SEC for the last two quarters. Back in November, the San Diego biotech was hit with a CRL for its high-dose naloxone injection that hammered the stock.
→ Renovacor, one of the Energizer bunnies of Peer Review this summer, keeps going and going and going in this space after its SPAC deal with Chardan Healthcare Acquisition 2 Corp by locking in Matt Killeen as CSO. A Biogen vet in the multiple sclerosis franchise, Killeen spent six years with BioMarin and mere months ago was elevated to head of therapeutic research, founding the cardiovascular therapeutic area. Other recent appointees you may recall from Renovacor include CMO Marc Semigran, CBO and SVP of operations Elizabeth White, and SVP of regulatory affairs and quality assurance Jiwen Zhang.
→ Farmingdale, NY-based biotech Codagenix, which netted a modest $20 million Series B round in January 2020 for its software-derived vaccine platform, has recruited Tyler Cook as CFO. Cook pivots to Codagenix after four years at Samus Therapeutics, where he earned a promotion to CFO, and he’s also been Ziopharm Oncology’s SVP of finance, administration and information technology.
→ Effective Oct. 1, Swedish oncology player Oasmia Pharmaceutical has called upon Kia Bengtsson to lead clinical development and Johanna Röstin to be in charge of regulatory affairs. Bengtsson, who worked in drug development and clinical operations at Ipsen from 2006-14 and then briefly at AstraZeneca, will make the transition to Oasmia after two years as CMO of Nanologica. A longtime staffer at Sobi, Röstin is finishing her time as director of CMC, program management and regulatory at OxThera.
→ Big Pharma alum Jean Fan has been promoted to the newly-created role of chief clinical officer at T cell player NeoImmuneTech out of Rockville, MD. Fan, who left her VP of clinical development post at Blueprint Medicines last year to lead clinical development at NeoImmuneTech, is the ex-global clinical lead of AstraZeneca’s late-stage immuno-oncology R&D division. Earlier, Fan served as senior global clinical program leader for NSCLC drug Gilotrif at Boehringer Ingelheim.
→ Novartis and EMD Serono vet Christopher Kenney has ventured off to Xenon Pharmaceuticals to become CMO at the neurological disorder biotech. From 2016-19, Kenney was SVP, clinical development and later SVP, medical affairs at Acorda Therapeutics before he moved on to Novartis partner Cadent Therapeutics as CMO. In December, Novartis forked over $216 million upfront to purchase Cadent and boost its neuro pipeline, namely NMDA receptor modulator MIJ-821.
→ Endpoint Health has welcomed former Takeda exec Kirsten Detrick as CCO. During her time at Takeda, Detrick served in a variety of roles, including as VP and therapy area commercial leader for the global gastrointestinal franchise, general manager of Austria and head of the company’s multi-country organization in central and Eastern Europe. Prior to that, Detrick was with Amgen and Bristol Myers.
In addition to Detrick’s appointment, the Palo Alto, CA-based company has pulled in some renowned industry veterans as strategic advisors of the company: Paul Brown (former CEO, president and global head of Roche Molecular Solution); Javier San Martin (CMO of Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals and a former Ultragenyx exec); Merdad Parsey (CMO of Gilead); and Mike Varney (Erasca‘s R&D chair and former head of Genentech‘s research and early development).
→ San Diego-based Aristea Therapeutics has tapped Justin Thacker as CFO. Thacker formerly served as VP, finance at Design Therapeutics and also served in the same role at Synthorx. Additionally, Thacker has held positions at Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Auspex Pharmaceuticals and Cadence Pharmaceuticals.
→ Recordati Rare Diseases, part of the Milan-based Recordati Group, has waved in William Ludlam as CMO and VP, clinical development. Ludlam has spent the last six years as a clinical development exec at Chiasma, and while he was with Novartis from 2012-15, he brought his expertise in pituitary disorders to the rare disease franchise as senior medical director in US clinical development and medical affairs.
→ Jiang Bian has signed on to be general counsel and chief compliance officer for Connect Biopharma, further filling out the C-suite almost exactly a year after a $115 million Series C round. Bian hails from Guardant Health, where he was senior counsel, and he also held that title at Pieris Pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, Jean Liu — Seagen’s EVP, legal affairs, general counsel and secretary — has been given a seat on the board of directors at Connect, which also appointed CBO Selwyn Ho back in January.
→ The Prostate Cancer Foundation has tagged genitourinary oncologist Chuck Ryan to be its president and CEO. Ryan, who has expertise in the biology and treatment of advanced prostate cancer, comes to the foundation from the University of Minnesota, where he served as director of the hematology, oncology and transplantation division in the department of medicine. Ryan also brings to the table experience from his time at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
→ Facing subpoenas from the DOJ and SEC, troubled CytoDyn has pulled in Seenu Srinivasan as executive director-CMC regulatory affairs. Previously, Srinivasan served as director of CMC regulatory affairs at Regeneron and he was global VP/CSO, CMC pharmaceutical development services for Covance. CytoDyn disclosed the subpoenas earlier this month after flooding the zone with press releases touting the success of its Covid-19 drug that failed to show any benefit.
→ Jeff Douglas has answered the call to be VP, clinical operations at Esker Therapeutics, the second biotech hatched from Vik Bajaj‘s incubator at Foresite Labs. Douglas is parting ways with MyoKardia — which was recently bought out by Bristol Myers for $13 billion — where he served as head of clinical operations for the last three years. Douglas has also directed programs focused on cancer immunotherapy and hematologic malignancies at Genentech. Esker, which launched in May with $70 million in Series A financing, couples this announcement with the opening of their new 14,000-square foot office space in South San Francisco.
→ Adverum is in a precarious position after safety issues shuttered its study of ADVM-022 for diabetic macular edema. Hoping to salvage the drug for those with wet AMD, the biotech has appointed Jim Wang as SVP, head of regulatory affairs. Wang, who has vast regulatory experience at Sanofi, Bristol Myers, Novo Nordisk, Shire and Spark, was recently with PTC Therapeutics as VP, global head of regulatory strategy.
→ Provenge maker Dendreon Pharmaceuticals, which just unveiled a contract manufacturing and services division under second-year CEO Jason O’Neill, has enlisted Sherry Saurini as VP of quality. Saurini had held the same post at TissueTech and CryoLife before heading to Dendreon.
→ Skin disease biotech Arcutis has opened up its doors to new execs in manufacturing, investor relations and communications in the last couple months, and there’s no off switch on the hiring spree with Bruce Binkowitz as VP of biometrics. Binkowitz had been VP of biometrics at Shionogi ever since he completed his 32-year tenure at Merck in 2017.
→ Located near the heart of Penn State University, NeuExcell Therapeutics has tapped Russ Addis as VP, research, staying in Pennsylvania after joining Sue Dillon’s crew at Aro Biotherapeutics around the time of its 2018 launch. Addis was promoted to senior director of biology in January at Aro before pivoting to the CNS and neurodegenerative disease-focused biotech.
→ Santa Clara, CA-based Rebus Biosystems has plucked Tarif Awad as VP scientific affairs. Awad comes to the company from Thermo Fisher Scientific, where he directed the reproductive health program. In addition to Awad’s appointment, Rebus has brought on biochemist Gloria Chui and Simone Codeluppi (assistant professor at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm) as principal scientists.
→ Dotmatics — a cloud-based scientific R&D data management platform that was acquired in March by Insightful Science — has recruited Michael Swartz as SVP enterprise product. Prior to his new role, Swartz was VP of software solutions and strategy at PerkinElmer Informatics.
→ Longtime Seagen exec Nancy Whiting has joined the board of directors at Jennifer Doudna’s Caribou Biosciences, which has enjoyed an eventful summer with its $300 million-plus IPO and the start of its allogeneic CAR-T trial. Caribou’s board also includes CEO Rachel Haurwitz, Marinus CEO Scott Braunstein and Vaxcyte CFO Andrew Guggenhime.
→ Ex-Wyeth (now Pfizer) president of R&D Robert Ruffolo has been elected to the board of directors at Fort Worth-based Nacuity Pharmaceuticals, which aims to treat eye diseases that involve oxidative stress like retinitis pigmentosa and cataracts. The chief innovation officer at Versicolor Technologies, Ruffolo is also on the board at OcuTerra, which is chaired by Brent Saunders.
→ Championed by AbbVie in a fibrosis partnership and galvanized by IBD data that sent its stock soaring to its highest level of the year in March, Morphic Therapeutic has appointed Nisha Nanda to the board of directors. Since January 2019, Nanda has been chief development officer of Loxo Oncology at Lilly.
→ Developing drug candidates in such diseases as RSV, HBV and NASH, Enanta Pharmaceuticals has space available on the board of directors for Yujiro Hata. The founder and CEO of Ideaya Biosciences also occupies board seats at Xencor and Expansion Therapeutics.
→ Diane Parks is adding another board seat to her résumé with her new appointment at CTI BioPharma. Parks has held a variety of roles across the industry, including as SVP, head of US commercial at Kite, where she led the launch and strategic planning for Yescarta. Additionally, Parks has served at Pharmacyclics, Genentech and Amgen. Parks currently sits on the boards of Calliditas, Soligenix and Kura Oncology, among others.
→ Myokardia vet Holly Schachner just got started as CMO at Double Rainbow, and she’s picked up a board appointment to boot at Applied Molecular Transport. Late last spring, AMT watched its IPO steamroll past the $100 million it penciled in, tallying a $177.1 million raise.
→ Woburn, MA-based ReForm Biologics has given Sobi North America CMO John Yee a seat on the board of directors. Yee, a former diabetes exec at AstraZeneca, has also been global head of medical affairs at Vertex.
→ Cambridge, MA-based TCR2 Therapeutics — specializing in T cell therapies for oncology — has brought on Priti Hegde to its board of directors. Currently, Hegde serves as CSO of Foundation Medicine, and previously worked at GlaxoSmithKline along with a 12-year stint at Genentech.
→ BioCryst — which bagged $250 million in a debt and royalty deal last year — has pulled out a seat on its board of directors for Steven Galson, a former director of the FDA’s CDER. Most recently, Galson served as SVP, research and development at Amgen.
→ Genocea Biosciences president and CEO Chip Clark is hopping onto the board of directors of iBio. Prior to his current stint at Genocea, Clark was CBO of Vanda Pharmaceuticals — a company he co-founded in 2004 — and served in roles at Care Capital and SmithKline Beecham.
→ After reeling in a $210 million Series B in June, Umoja Biopharma has enlisted Greg Sargen to its board of directors. Sargen joins the Seattle-based company after his most recent stint as CFO and EVP of corporate development and strategy at Cambrex Corporation. Prior to that, he served at Expanets, Merck and Fisher Scientific, among others.
→ Pharma Two B has selected Jeffrey Berkowitz as chairman of its board of directors. Berkowitz is currently CEO of Real Endpoints and, in the past, has held positions at Merck, Schering-Plough, UnitedHealth Group/Optum and Walgreens Boots Alliance.
→ Seattle-based Visus Therapeutics has brought on two new faces to its board of directors with the appointments of Tracey Valorie (former SVP and general manager, US ophthalmology RX and surgical at Bausch + Lomb) and Dwight Moxie (SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary at Revance Therapeutics).
→ One-time penny stock player Vaxart has created an eight-member scientific and clinical advisory board which includes: Ralph Baric (professor, department of epidemiology, microbiology, and immunology at UNC-Chapel Hill); Robert Belshe (professor emeritus, division of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at St Louis University); Stefan Gravenstein (professor of medicine at Brown University); Gregory Gray (professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases at Duke University School of Medicine); Harry Greenberg (professor in the school of medicine at Stanford University); Marion Pepper (associate professor, immunology at the University of Washington); Stanley Plotkin (emeritus professor at the University of Pennsylvania); and George Siber (former CSO of Wyeth Vaccines Research).