Bris­tol-My­ers bumps off chief sci­en­tist in an­oth­er big shake­up, bring­ing in Cel­gene and No­var­tis ex­ecs

Just 2 years af­ter Tom Lynch stepped from the board room to the top sci­en­tif­ic po­si­tion at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, he’s out.

Ru­pert Vessey Cel­gene

The phar­ma gi­ant re­port­ed Wednes­day morn­ing that Lynch will leave his post as CSO in four months, mov­ing Cel­gene R&D ex­ec Ru­pert Vessey in­to the top re­search po­si­tion af­ter the big merg­er while re­cruit­ing No­var­tis on­col­o­gy de­vel­op­ment head Samit Hi­rawat for chief med­ical of­fi­cer with com­mand of the de­vel­op­ment group.

Lynch him­self was brought in to fix what was wrong at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb but in­stead was tagged with a se­ries of set­backs af­ter con­tin­u­ing a flawed re­search strat­e­gy on Op­di­vo that Wall Street lost faith in as the mega-block­buster steadi­ly lost ground to Keytru­da.

Samit Hi­rawat No­var­tis via Twit­ter

The move does pro­vide Bris­tol-My­ers with a way of main­tain­ing a fo­cus on the line­up of re­search projects they’re buy­ing with the Cel­gene ac­qui­si­tion. And in raid­ing No­var­tis, they’ll be gain­ing an ex­ec­u­tive from a win­ning team with a string of suc­cess­es to its cred­it this year.

The high-lev­el re­or­ga­ni­za­tion trig­gered by the merg­er al­so ex­tends in­to the com­mer­cial are­na.

While Chris Boern­er will re­main chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, Nadim Ahmed has been named pres­i­dent of hema­tol­ogy who will al­so over­see the cell ther­a­py unit. And Cel­gene CFO David Elkins is tak­ing the top fi­nance post at the merged com­pa­ny, re­plac­ing Charles Ban­croft, who will re­tire next year af­ter com­plet­ing 35 years at the com­pa­ny.

One po­si­tion that won’t be chang­ing: The CEO role.

Gio­van­ni Caforio has no in­ten­tion of giv­ing up that post as he sets about the chal­leng­ing task of liv­ing up to the promis­es he made in­vestors dur­ing the leap to the big buy­out. Not all of the com­pa­ny’s biggest in­vestors liked this deal, and they’re go­ing to need some con­vinc­ing that it was in their best in­ter­ests.

Caforio had tout­ed Lynch as a ma­jor new force, pri­vate­ly ac­knowl­edg­ing that they need­ed to change R&D course as Mer­ck be­gan to gain ground in the crit­i­cal PD-1 field — par­tic­u­lar­ly in lung can­cer. Mer­ck though found a win­ning strat­e­gy in com­bin­ing Keytru­da with chemo, while Bris­tol-My­ers at­tempt­ed to push an ap­proach us­ing their CT­LA-4 drug Yer­voy as well as con­cen­trat­ing on high tu­mor mu­ta­tion­al bur­dens in iden­ti­fy­ing the best pa­tient pop­u­la­tion for their drug.

That large­ly failed — at least so far. The ju­ry is still out on TMB, while Mer­ck widens its lead in the field.

Hi­rawat, mean­while, ran the suc­cess­ful Kisqali pro­gram as No­var­tis beefed up its on­col­o­gy pro­gram.

Here’s the full line­up in the new struc­ture at Bris­tol-My­ers:

  • Nadim Ahmed, Pres­i­dent, Hema­tol­ogy
  • Charles Ban­croft, Ex­ec­u­tive Lead for In­te­gra­tion
  • Paul Bion­di, Head, Strat­e­gy and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment
  • Chris Boern­er, Ph.D., Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent & Chief Com­mer­cial­iza­tion Of­fi­cer
  • Adam Dubow, Chief Com­pli­ance Of­fi­cer
  • Joseph Eid, M.D., Head, Glob­al Med­ical Af­fairs
  • John Elick­er, Head, Cor­po­rate Af­fairs and In­vestor Re­la­tions
  • David Elkins, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent & Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer
  • Samit Hi­rawat, M.D., Chief Med­ical Of­fi­cer, Glob­al Drug De­vel­op­ment
  • Sev­er­ine La­court, Chief of Staff to the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer
  • San­dra Le­ung, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent & Gen­er­al Coun­sel
  • Ann Pow­ell, Chief Hu­man Re­sources Of­fi­cer
  • Lou Schmuk­ler, Pres­i­dent, Glob­al Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment & Sup­ply
  • Ru­pert Vessey, M.A., B.M., B.Ch., F.R.C.P., D.Phil., Pres­i­dent, Re­search & Ear­ly De­vel­op­ment
  • Paul von Aut­en­ried, Chief In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer

Im­age: Tom Lynch at an End­points News event in Boston, June 2018 — Pho­to by Rob Tan­nen­baum, End­points News

Jim Mellon [via YouTube]

Health­i­er, longer lifes­pans will be a re­al­i­ty soon­er than you think, Ju­ve­nes­cence promis­es as it clos­es $100M round

Earlier this year, an executive from Juvenescence-backed AgeX predicted the field of longevity will eventually “dwarf the dotcom boom.” Greg Bailey, the UK-based anti-aging biotech’s CEO, certainly hopes so.

On Monday, Juvenescence completed its $100 million Series B round of financing. The company is backed by British billionaire Jim Mellon — who wrote his 400-page guide to investing in the field of longevity shortly after launching the company in 2017.  Bailey, who served as a board director for seven years at Medivation before Pfizer swallowed the biotech for $14 billion, is joined by Declan Doogan, an industry veteran with stints at Pfizer and Amarin.

John Hood [file photo]

UP­DAT­ED: Cel­gene and the sci­en­tist who cham­pi­oned fe­dra­tinib's rise from Sanofi's R&D grave­yard win FDA OK

Six years after Sanofi gave it up for dead, the FDA has approved the myelofibrosis drug fedratinib, now owned by Celgene.

The drug will be sold as Inrebic, and will soon land in the portfolio at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is finalizing a deal to acquire Celgene.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

The top 10 fran­chise drugs in bio­phar­ma his­to­ry will earn a to­tal of $1.4T (tril­lion) by 2024 — what does that tell us?

Just in case you were looking for more evidence of just how important Amgen’s patent win on Enbrel is for the company and its investors, EvaluatePharma has come up with a forward-looking consensus estimate on what the list of top 10 drugs will look like in 2024.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.

As dis­as­ter struck, Ab­b­Vie’s Rick Gon­za­lez swooped in on Al­ler­gan with an of­fer Brent Saun­ders couldn’t say no to

Early March was a no good, awful, terrible time for Allergan CEO Brent Saunders. His big lead drug had imploded in a Phase III disaster and activists were after his hide — or at least his chairman’s title — as the stock price continued a steady droop that had eviscerated share value for investors.

But it was a perfect time for AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez to pick up the phone and ask Saunders if he’d like to consider a “strategic” deal.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CEO Pascal Soriot via Getty Images

As­traZeneca's jug­ger­naut PARP play­er Lyn­parza scoops up an­oth­er dom­i­nant win in PhI­II as the FDA adds a 'break­through' for Calquence

AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D group under José Baselga keeps churning out hits.

Wednesday morning the pharma giant and their partners at Merck parted the curtains on a successful readout for their Phase III PAOLA-1 study, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival for women with ovarian cancer in a first-line maintenance setting who added their PARP Lynparza to Avastin. This is their second late-stage success in ovarian cancer, which will help stave off rivals like GSK.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.