R&D, Restructuring

Daiichi Sankyo shakes up its R&D leadership, dispatching Junichi Koga to the US to run global ops

Two years after bringing out the budget ax and shaking up its global R&D group, Daiichi Sankyo is revamping the leadership of its research arm and shifting the center of gravity to the US. They’re also sharpening their focus on oncology at a time the pursuit of new cancer drugs has gripped most of the majors.

Out: Glenn Gormley, who took the R&D reins at Daiichi Sankyo in 2011 after a 20-year run at three big pharma groups: Merck, AstraZeneca and Novartis. He’ll stay on, though, as chairman of the board and special adviser to global CEO Joji Nakayama.

Junichi Koga

In: Junichi Koga, who’s getting a promotion from head of the R&D group in Japan to the overall chief’s position. Koga is moving to Basking Ridge, NJ — where the pharma company concentrated its US commercial and research work close to 3 years ago — to lead the global operations. And he’ll co-chair the research committee with Antoine Yver, who heads up oncology.

Ken Keller

Commercial chief Ken Keller, meanwhile, is being made CEO of the US operations of Daiichi Sankyo, where he will be expected to coordinate the launch of the company’s newly developed cancer drugs.

Joji Nakayama

The senior level shakeup is designed to facilitate a more effective launch of new drugs, an issue that the company has long struggled with. The company has an FDA-designated “breakthrough” drug called pexidartinib under review at the agency for treating rare cases of tenosynovial giant cell tumor. And it’s boasted of some so-so data on another “breakthrough” — quizartinib, obtained in their acquisition of Ambit. The company has also bailed on a pact with Nektar on Onzeald and conceded a painful setback on its Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug.

A couple of years ago Daiichi Sankyo shuttered a couple of large research groups in India and Japan, laying off hundreds of staffers and redistributing their work. The major focus now clearly lies on the US market and their prospects in oncology.


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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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