Riccardo Braglia, Helsinn

Helsinn, the Braglia fam­i­ly phar­ma, sees some big changes in lead­er­ship as it un­veils a new R&D strat­e­gy

For any­one who’s been pay­ing close at­ten­tion, Helsinn’s shift to tar­get­ed can­cer ther­a­pies has been a long time com­ing. But on Thurs­day, the com­pa­ny of­fi­cial­ly un­veiled its new strat­e­gy — and with it, some big struc­tur­al and lead­er­ship changes.

Gior­gio Calder­ari

Helsinn is stray­ing away from its suc­cess as a can­cer sup­port­ive care com­pa­ny and turn­ing to a new so-called Ful­ly In­te­grat­ed Tar­get­ed Ther­a­py (FITT) strat­e­gy, the Braglia fam­i­ly an­nounced Thurs­day. Gior­gio Calder­ari, who’s been with the com­pa­ny for the last 36 years, has been tapped to lead the charge as CEO, while Ric­car­do Braglia steps in­to his dad’s old role as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man.

Gabriele Braglia, founder and fa­ther to Ric­car­do Braglia, has been named “hon­orary chair­man,” while his grand­son, Gabriele Edoar­do Braglia, joins the board of di­rec­tors. Sid­dharth Kaul, who hails from P&G and No­var­tis, is al­so join­ing the board.

“As part of our strate­gic evo­lu­tion, we will re­main ful­ly com­mit­ted to sup­ply­ing our mar­ket­ed sup­port­ive can­cer care and can­cer ther­a­peu­tic prod­ucts to pa­tients in need and this will al­so sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of our ful­ly in­te­grat­ed tar­get­ed ther­a­pies as we con­tin­ue to rein­vest ap­prox­i­mate­ly 35 per­cent of our rev­enues in R&D,” Calder­ari said in a state­ment.

The strat­e­gy re­lies on three re­cent deals, the com­pa­ny said, the first be­ing one struck back in March for co-de­vel­op­ment and co-com­mer­cial­iza­tion rights to QED Ther­a­peu­tics’ Trusel­tiq, a new ther­a­py ap­proved to treat cas­es of cholan­gio­car­ci­no­ma har­bor­ing an FGFR2 fu­sion or re­arrange­ment.

Helsinn al­so has a Phase I/II RET ty­ro­sine ki­nase in­hibitor up its sleeve, which it’s co-de­vel­op­ing with the Japan­ese phar­ma com­pa­ny Tai­ho Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal from a 2017 deal. The duo dosed the first pa­tients a year ago in a study tar­get­ing RET-al­tered non-small cell lung can­cer and RET-al­tered sol­id tu­mors.

Then, there’s Helsinn’s part­ner­ship with Bridge­Bio, which has birthed its first pre­clin­i­cal pro­gram, a po­ten­tial­ly first-in-class GPX4 in­hibitor.

Helsinn will still mar­ket its sup­port­ive can­cer drugs — Akynzeo and Aloxi — for pre­vent­ing nau­sea and vom­it­ing as­so­ci­at­ed with an­ti-can­cer drugs like chemother­a­py. And ex­ecs have com­mit­ted to rein­vest­ing 35% of its in­come from ex­ist­ing prod­ucts in­to tar­get­ed ther­a­peu­tics R&D for the next five years.

“De­liv­er­ing vi­tal can­cer sup­port­ive care prod­ucts to pa­tients is still very close to our hearts, and we will con­tin­ue to do so in con­junc­tion with our strat­e­gy evo­lu­tion,” Ric­car­do Braglia said in a state­ment.

Over the last 45 years, the fam­i­ly-owned and op­er­at­ed busi­ness has qui­et­ly built a promi­nent place for it­self in the bio­phar­ma world. But in an ex­clu­sive with End­points News this past June, Ric­car­do Braglia re­vealed plans to build up R&D ops and make a co­or­di­nat­ed at­tack on the on­col­o­gy mar­ket.

“I would like to thank my fa­ther Gabriele, who found­ed and led the Helsinn group for 40 years and I am hon­ored to suc­ceed him and steer Helsinn through the next step in its jour­ney from the po­si­tion of Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man as we fo­cus our ef­forts on de­vel­op­ing next gen­er­a­tion tar­get­ed ther­a­pies,” he said in a state­ment on Thurs­day.

As part of the shift, Helsinn is spin­ning out its full-ser­vice con­tract man­u­fac­tur­ing sub­sidiary HAS Health­care Ad­vanced Syn­the­sis SA, which will be launched as a sep­a­rate busi­ness to­geth­er with Lux­em­bourg’s 3B Fu­ture Health Fund SA.

“Be­ing part of the Helsinn jour­ney to­geth­er with Ric­car­do and the Braglia fam­i­ly for more than 30 years, it is now an hon­or for me to be ap­point­ed as Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer. We are tru­ly ex­cit­ed to be fo­cus­ing on tar­get­ed ther­a­pies and on Helsinn’s fu­ture prospects as we fo­cus our ef­forts to be at the fore­front of in­no­v­a­tive can­cer ther­a­peu­tics,” Calder­ari said.

Graphic: Alexander Lefterov for Endpoints News

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