As­traZeneca throws a mon­key wrench in new GSK CEO’s first hir­ing de­ci­sion, su­ing Luke Miels

Luke Miels

Back at the be­gin­ning of this year, one of Em­ma Walm­s­ley’s first moves as in­com­ing CEO of Glax­o­SmithK­line was to poach Luke Miels from As­traZeneca to head up the glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals busi­ness. Miels’ ex­pe­ri­ence in phar­ma and his ear­li­er role man­ag­ing the port­fo­lio and strat­e­gy at As­traZeneca, she said, gave him in­sights on R&D and the in­dus­try that would make him unique­ly suit­ed to the job.

Ev­i­dent­ly, As­traZeneca be­lieves he may be too suit­ed to the job.

The phar­ma gi­ant has now sued Miels in a UK Court, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in Bloomberg. As­traZeneca al­leges that Miels is in vi­o­la­tion of his con­tract, but ev­i­dent­ly didn’t spec­i­fy which sec­tions of the con­tract had been vi­o­lat­ed.

Em­ma Walm­s­ley

In the mean­time, Miels — four months af­ter he ac­cept­ed the new job — is now on “gar­den­ing leave.”

As­traZeneca CEO Pas­cal So­ri­ot, who was him­self poached from Roche for the top job, has watched a num­ber of R&D ex­ecs leave the com­pa­ny over the past year with­out trig­ger­ing a law­suit.

A spokesper­son for the com­pa­ny tells me via email:

Luke gave no­tice to ter­mi­nate his em­ploy­ment with As­traZeneca in Jan­u­ary 2017. In line with his con­tract and in view of the com­mer­cial­ly com­pet­i­tive na­ture, Luke left his po­si­tion with im­me­di­ate ef­fect and was placed on gar­den leave for the du­ra­tion of his no­tice pe­ri­od. The suit seeks to con­firm Luke is re­quired to abide by the terms of his con­tract of em­ploy­ment.

Be­cause this is an on­go­ing mat­ter I can’t com­ment fur­ther.

GSK says it will be wait­ing for Miels with open arms, when the time ar­rives. Said a spokesper­son:

“Luke is a very tal­ent­ed in­di­vid­ual that we’ve ap­point­ed to lead our phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals busi­ness. We look for­ward to wel­com­ing him to GSK in due course.”

Walm­s­ley, in the mean­time, has had to deal with rebel in­vestors and some great ex­pec­ta­tions about how she plans to make her stint at the top of the phar­ma gi­ant a suc­cess. Neil Wood­ford, a long­time crit­ic of the com­pa­ny’s un­ex­cit­ing pipeline, bolt­ed days ago, say­ing he ex­pect­ed that GSK’s one vi­brant arm, Vi­iV, was about to get ham­mered by a ri­val HIV drug from Gilead. The CEO in turn is re­port­ed­ly prep­ping a buy­out of No­var­tis’ por­tion of their JV on con­sumer health, a $10.3 bil­lion wa­ger.

Here’s what she had to say about Miels’ par­tic­i­pa­tion last Jan­u­ary:

We are now en­ter­ing a crit­i­cal pe­ri­od of com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion for our new phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts and, over the next two to three years, we have im­por­tant da­ta to come on our ear­ly-stage pipeline. Luke will bring a strong new voice to the de­ci­sions and choic­es we will have to make for our Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals busi­ness. I am de­light­ed he has agreed to join GSK and look for­ward to wel­com­ing him to the ex­ec­u­tive team.

That wel­com­ing par­ty will have to wait for now.

Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Look­ing to move past an R&D fi­as­co, Ipsen poach­es their new CEO from Sanofi

Ipsen has turned to another Paris-based biopharma company for its next CEO.

Sanofi Pasteur chief David Loew — who’s been leading one of the most advanced efforts to develop vaccines for Covid-19 — is making the journey to Ipsen, 5 months after David Meek jumped ship to run a startup in late-stage development.

Loew arrives as Ipsen works to get back on track with their rare bone disease drug palovarotene, picked up in the $1.3 billion Clementia buyout, which was slammed with a partial hold after researchers observed cases of “early growth plate closure” in patients under the age of 14. But they are pushing ahead with the over-14 crowd after writing down slightly more than half of its initial development.

Stymied by the pan­dem­ic, Im­munomedic­s' new CEO bows out, tak­ing a mil­lion bucks plus perks as he heads out the vir­tu­al ex­it

Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, $IMMU Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out.

Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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