Glob­al CRO Parex­el woos out­sourc­ing vet­er­an Jamie Mac­don­ald to the helm

Top-10 CRO Parex­el is bring­ing in an ex­pe­ri­enced hand to take the helm.

Co-founder Josef von Rick­en­bach — a fa­mil­iar face in the out­sourc­ing world — is step­ping up to con­cen­trate on the chair­man’s spot af­ter guid­ing the com­pa­ny for the past 35 years. And he’s be­ing re­placed in the CEO suite by Jamie Mac­don­ald, who not so long ago head­ed INC Re­search be­fore its merg­er with in­Ven­tiv and re­brand­ing as Sy­neos.

CROs have un­der­gone a sea change over the past decade, with pri­vate eq­ui­ty step­ping in to dri­ve a glob­al con­sol­i­da­tion of the in­dus­try. Last year proved to be par­tic­u­lar­ly chal­leng­ing to Boston-based Parex­el, which had built up a glob­al or­ga­ni­za­tion of some 19,000 staffers. Pam­plona Cap­i­tal end­ed up buy­ing the com­pa­ny out for $5 bil­lion af­ter a re­or­ga­ni­za­tion cost more than a thou­sand jobs, dri­ven by some painful can­cel­la­tions the year be­fore.

Josef von Rick­en­bach

For von Rick­en­bach, one big trend he’s been grap­pling with has been cen­tered around Big Da­ta: “mak­ing sure that the ef­fi­cien­cies and the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are com­ing down the pike as a re­sult of the avail­abil­i­ty and use of Big Da­ta — that we get that right.”

Mac­don­ald sees his job now as build­ing on the CRO’s strengths.

“What we have is a tech back­bone, a strong ba­sis in Asia, da­ta and an­a­lyt­ics,” says the new CEO, who jok­ing­ly notes that he is now on day two-and-half at Parex­el. Key con­cerns re­main the same: “Are we se­lect­ing the right drug and the most ap­pro­pri­ate pro­to­col, putting them in­to the right hands in sites and in­ves­ti­ga­tors.”

“There is,” he added, “some­thing to be said for fo­cus.”

So will Parex­el and its new own­ers at Pam­plona buy some­thing new to fo­cus on?

Could be.

“We cer­tain­ly have the ca­pa­bil­i­ty to ac­quire cer­tain as­sets,” says Mac­don­ald, who sound­ed most in­ter­est­ed in adding ca­pa­bil­i­ties rather than buy­ing mar­ket share through M&A. Mak­ing a big­ger com­pa­ny out of a peer-to-peer al­liance did not sound like his sweet spot at all.

Both von Rick­en­bach and Mac­don­ald not­ed that as the Big Phar­ma side of the busi­ness grows more and more sat­u­rat­ed on the CRO side, there is added po­ten­tial on the biotech side of the busi­ness. Small and mid-sized com­pa­nies have en­joyed huge in­creas­es in fi­nanc­ing sources in re­cent years, while op­er­at­ing with a busi­ness mod­el that en­cour­ages — if not out­right re­quires — out­sourc­ing clin­i­cal tri­al work.

An­oth­er big area of op­por­tu­ni­ty: Asia, says the chair­man, and in par­tic­u­lar Chi­na.

Parex­el is like­ly to con­tin­ue to see some of its biggest growth in Chi­na, adding re­searchers as well as clients as the bio­phar­ma busi­ness booms — dri­ven by less ob­struc­tive de­vel­op­ment reg­u­la­tions as well as plen­ty of new fund­ing.

It’s a fast-chang­ing world in the CRO in­dus­try. And Mac­don­ald will have a big say on how that plays out.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 59,900+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.