Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Al­bert Baehny

Lon­za chair­man Al­bert Baehny took his time head­hunt­ing a new CEO for the com­pa­ny, mak­ing it ab­solute­ly clear he want­ed a Big Phar­ma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the busi­ness for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold stan­dard, turn­ing to Roche’s ranks to re­cruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a mem­ber of the phar­ma lead­er­ship team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the com­pa­ny. But like a small army of man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­ecs, he gained much of his ex­pe­ri­ence at the oth­er Big Phar­ma in Basel, re­main­ing at No­var­tis for 12 years be­fore ex­pand­ing his hori­zons.

Pierre-Alain Ruffieux

Ruffieux high­lights his main in­ter­est right at the top of his LinkedIn pro­file: “Rein­vent­ing Drug Man­u­fac­tur­ing as Head Glob­al Phar­ma Tech­ni­cal Op­er­a­tion at Roche.”

He’ll have plen­ty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for rein­ven­tion at Lon­za, which has been un­der­go­ing some deep changes in re­vamp­ing the busi­ness — des­ig­nat­ing new growth ar­eas, in­vest­ing in new fa­cil­i­ties and right­ing the ship at a strug­gling spe­cial in­gre­di­ents di­vi­sion. That’s all on his plate while fol­low­ing up as Mod­er­na’s glob­al man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner in a dri­ve to de­liv­er a bil­lion dos­es of a new vac­cine that’s nev­er been com­mer­cial­ized be­fore.

Marc Funk

Lon­za pro­mot­ed Marc Funk to the top job in ear­ly 2019, but he ex­it­ed sud­den­ly last No­vem­ber af­ter just 9 months, sig­nal­ing some in­ter­nal dis­ar­ray in the ex­ec­u­tive suite.

The con­tract drug man­u­fac­tur­er has in­vest­ed heav­i­ly in new cell and gene ther­a­py ca­pac­i­ty, part of an in­dus­try-wide ex­pan­sion to meet the de­mands of a fast-grow­ing side of the busi­ness.

5AM Ven­tures: Fu­el­ing the Next Gen­er­a­tion of In­no­va­tors

By RBC Capital Markets
With Andy Schwab, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures

Key Points

Prescription Digital Therapeutics, cell therapy technologies, and in silico medicines will be a vital part of future treatment modalities.
Unlocking the potential of the microbiome could be the missing link to better disease diagnosis.
Growing links between academia, industry, and venture capital are spinning out more innovative biotech companies.
Biotech is now seen by investors as a growth space as well as a safe haven, fuelling the recent IPO boom.

Janet Woodcock (AP Images)

End­points poll: Janet Wood­cock takes the (in­ter­im) helm at the FDA. And a large ma­jor­i­ty of our read­ers want her to stay there

It’s official: Janet Woodcock is now the acting chief of the FDA.

And — according to an Endpoints poll — most industry readers would like her to stay there, although a significant minority is strongly opposed.

To recap: Joe Biden is reportedly choosing between Woodcock and former deputy FDA commissioner Joshua Sharfstein as his nominee for the permanent position. Given their respective track records, the decision is set to determine the agency’s lodestar for years to come.

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Hal Barron, GSK via YouTube

What does $29B buy you in Big Phar­ma? In Glax­o­SmithK­line’s case, a whole lot of un­com­fort­able ques­tions about the pipeline

Talk about your bad timing.

A little over a week ago, GSK R&D chief Hal Barron marked his third anniversary at the research helm by taking a turn at the virtual podium during JP Morgan to make the case that he and his team had built a valuable late-stage pipeline capable of churning out more than 10 blockbusters in the next 5 years.

And then, just days later, one of the cancer drugs he bet big on as a top prospect — bintrafusp, partnered with Merck KGaA — failed its first pivotal test in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Fast on Glax­o­SmithK­line's heels, Au­rinia wins OK to steer a sec­ond lu­pus nephri­tis drug straight to the mar­ket

GlaxoSmithKline’s Benlysta isn’t alone in the small circle of approved lupus nephritis drugs anymore.

Little Aurinia Pharmaceuticals has gotten the green light from the FDA to start marketing its first and only program, voclosporin, under the brand name Lupkynis — something CEO Peter Greenleaf says it’s been ready to do since December.

Regulators went right down to the wire on the decision, keeping the company and the entire salesforce it’s already assembled on its toes.

Charlie Fuchs, Roche and Genentech global head of product development for oncology and hematology (Yale Cancer Center)

Yale can­cer spe­cial­ist Char­lie Fuchs tapped as new glob­al de­vel­op­ment chief for Roche/Genen­tech

Roche and their big sub Genentech have just recruited a top cancer specialist at Yale to head up global product development in oncology and hematology.

I just got word that the pharma giant, which leads one of the most active cancer research operations in the world, recruited Charlie Fuchs, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital. He’ll join the global operation March 1 and will be based in South San Francisco, where Genentech is based.

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Eli Lil­ly's an­ti­body cuts risk of Covid-19 by up to 80% among the most vul­ner­a­ble — but will it have a place next to vac­cines?

Eli Lilly says bamlanivimab lowered the risk of contracting symptomatic Covid-19 in a first-of-its-kind trial involving nursing home residents and staff, paving the way for a new option to protect against the virus.

But how big of an impact it might have, and what role it will play, at a time vaccines are being rolled out to the exact population it is targeting still remains unclear.

Among 965 participants in the study — all of whom tested negative for the coronavirus at baseline — the number of symptomatic cases reported in the bamlanivimab arm was 57% lower than that in the placebo arm (odds ratio 0.43, p=0.00021). In addition to that primary endpoint, all secondary endpoints reached statistical significance.

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What’s next for End­points — and how to sup­port our in­de­pen­dent bio­phar­ma news mis­sion

The firehose of biopharma news is gushing these days.

That’s why broader and deeper is the theme for 2021 at Endpoints. You can expect new coverage outside our core R&D focus, with deeper reporting in some key areas. When John Carroll and I launched Endpoints nearly five years ago, we were wading in waist-high waters. Now we’re a team of 25 full-time staffers (and growing) with plans to cover the flood of biopharma news, Endpoints-style.

Jonathan Weissman (MIT)

Can a new CRISPR tech­nique un­lock the se­crets of how can­cer spreads?

Jonathan Weissman’s team watched the cancer cells spread across the doomed mouse. Engineered with a bioluminescent enzyme, they appeared in scans first as a small navy blue diamond lodged near the heart; a week later, as a triangle splayed across the mouse’s upper body, with streaks of green and two distinct bright red hubs of activity. By day 54, the mouse resembled a lava lamp.

The images would have been familiar to any cancer biologist, but they didn’t actually tell you much about what was going on: why the cancer was metastasizing or which cells were responsible. For that, Weissman’s team had designed a new tool. Inside the original navy blue diamond, they had engineered the microbiological equivalent of an airplane’s black box — a “molecular recorder” that, after the mouse’s death, could allow them to extract the cells and wind back intimate footage of a single cancer’s ascent.

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Deval Patrick (Mary Altaffer/AP Images)

De­val Patrick joins Cerev­el board, fur­ther in­ter­twin­ing com­pa­ny with Bain Cap­i­tal

Tony Coles’ team at Cerevel Therapeutics is adding two high-profile board members, including an ex-governor that has lots of connections to the Boston area where the biotech is based.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is hopping on Cerevel’s board of directors, the company announced Thursday, joining less than three months after Cerevel went public on the backs of Perceptive’s ARYA II SPAC. And in a twist, Pfizer’s new business development chief Deborah Baron is joining the board as well, about three years after the Big Pharma shuttered the neuroscience pipeline that Cerevel is seeking to revive.

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