In sud­den re­vamp, Cel­gene CEO Alles bids his COO good­bye and looks to re­gain con­fi­dence with man­age­ment shuf­fle

Stag­gered by a se­ries of late-stage set­backs capped by the FDA’s re­fusal to ac­cept its ap­pli­ca­tion on their lead­ing late-stage drug and look­ing vul­ner­a­ble on its num­bers, Cel­gene CEO and chair­man Mark Alles is re­vamp­ing the lead­er­ship struc­ture at the wob­bly biotech.

Scott Smith

Num­ber one on the to-do list: Scott Smith is out as pres­i­dent and COO, with im­me­di­ate ef­fect. He’s not re­tir­ing or off in search of new op­por­tu­ni­ties. He’s just out.

The man­age­ment re­vamp will leave Alles in charge of every­thing from clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment to reg­u­la­to­ry, the all-im­por­tant hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy fran­chise as well as in­flam­ma­tion and im­munol­o­gy.

Mark Alles

Re­port­ing di­rect­ly to him: Nadim Ahmed, pres­i­dent, glob­al hema­tol­ogy and on­col­o­gy; Ter­rie Cur­ran, pres­i­dent, glob­al in­flam­ma­tion and im­munol­o­gy; Jay Back­strom, chief med­ical of­fi­cer and head of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs; and Joanne Beck, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, glob­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions.

And the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion ap­pears to still be un­der way. Jef­feries’ Michael Yee not­ed Mon­day night: “The com­pa­ny is re­or­ga­niz­ing its ex­ec­u­tive team in the mean­time, and we could hear sev­er­al hires/pro­mo­tions over the com­ing months.”

The move comes short­ly af­ter Bob Hug­in’s de­par­ture as ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the com­pa­ny he ran to great ac­claim for years. But the ap­plause has qui­et­ed sig­nif­i­cant­ly over the past year. Cel­gene’s $710 mil­lion cash roll of the dice on the in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease drug mon­gersen (GED-301) came up snake eyes in Phase III last fall. Most re­cent­ly the FDA re­ject­ed Cel­gene’s ap­pli­ca­tion for ozan­i­mod, an em­bar­rass­ment for a com­pa­ny that prid­ed it­self on its abil­i­ty to ex­e­cute ef­fec­tive­ly.

That could have been for­giv­en eas­i­ly enough, but in­vestors have been alarmed over weak fi­nan­cials un­der­scor­ing the com­pa­ny’s ex­tra­or­di­nary de­pen­dence on Revlim­id and the big, reg­u­lar price hikes it needs to keep on top of the game. Revlim­id’s patent po­si­tion is al­so un­der as­sault.

Just week’s ago Baird’s Bri­an Sko­r­ney not­ed that re­peat­ed sna­fus have cre­at­ed a sit­u­a­tion where “in­vestors are hes­i­tant to get back in­to what was once biotech’s poster child for con­tin­ued growth and sol­id ex­e­cu­tion.”

Alles wants it all back, and he now has fi­nal re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for all of it.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

The End­points 11: They've got mad mon­ey and huge am­bi­tions. It's time to go big or go home

These days, selecting a group of private biotechs for the Endpoints 11 spotlight begins with a sprint to get ahead of IPOs and the M&A teams at Big Pharma. I’ve had a couple of faceplants earlier this year, watching some of the biotechs on my short list choose a quick leap onto Nasdaq or into the arms of a buyer.

Vividion, you would have been a great pick for the Endpoints 11. I’m sorry I missed you.

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Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

So what hap­pened with No­var­tis Gene Ther­a­pies? Here's your an­swer

Over the last couple of days it’s become clear that the gene therapy division at Novartis has quietly undergone a major reorganization. We learned on Monday that Dave Lennon, who had pursued a high-profile role as president of the unit with 1,500 people, had left the pharma giant to take over as CEO of a startup.

Like a lot of the majors, Novartis is an open highway for head hunters, or anyone looking to staff a startup. So that was news but not completely unexpected.

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Who are the women su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for this year's spe­cial re­port

The biotech industry has faced repeated calls to diversify its workforce — and in the last year, those calls got a lot louder. Though women account for just under half of all biotech employees around the world, they occupy very few places in C-suites, and even fewer make it to the helm.

Some companies are listening, according to a recent BIO survey which showed that this year’s companies were 2.5 times more likely to have a diversity and inclusion program compared to last year’s sample. But we still have a long way to go. Women represent just 31% of biotech executives, BIO reported. And those numbers are even more stark for women of color.

Emma Walmsley, GlaxoSmithKline CEO (Credit: Fang Zhe/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

The fire un­der Glax­o­SmithK­line's Em­ma Walm­s­ley grows as an­oth­er well-known ac­tivist in­vestor grabs its pitch­fork — re­port

Bluebell Capital Partners, a proxy brawler fresh off a campaign to oust global food giant Danone’s CEO and most of its board of directors, has bought a stake in UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline with its eyes trained directly on Emma Walmsley, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

The London-based hedge fund joins another notorious activist firm in Paul Singer’s Elliott Management, which earlier this year called for a shakeup in leadership at GSK to handle what the company described as a wealth of riches across the drug giant’s portfolio hindered by limited vision from top staff.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

FDA au­tho­rizes Pfiz­er's vac­cine boost­er for se­niors, those at high risk for se­vere Covid-19

The Biden administration’s goal of kicking off its booster shot drive for the entire US population this week is not quite going as planned.

First, Pfizer applied for approval of a supplemental application for the booster shots, but since last Friday’s adcomm reviewing them, the plan has devolved into an EUA, which the FDA issued late Thursday evening.

The population that is now eligible for the booster, six months after receiving the first pair of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, also narrowed from what Pfizer applied for (everyone who’s eligible for the initial Pfizer shots) to just those who are 65 or older, or at high-risk of a Covid infection, including health care workers and others with occupational hazards.

Stéphane Bancel, AP Images

Fi­nal analy­sis of US-fund­ed Mod­er­na Covid vac­cine tri­al shows 98% ef­fi­ca­cy against se­vere dis­ease

A final look at the results of the placebo-controlled Moderna trial in the New England Journal of Medicine, published Thursday afternoon, shows how the vaccine continues to prevent Covid-19 and severe cases after more than five months following the second shot.

Of the more than 30,000 enrolled in the trial that ultimately led to the vaccine’s EUA, only two people in the vaccine group got a severe form of the disease, compared to 106 in the placebo group — leading to an efficacy of 98%.

FDA+ roundup: Bs­U­FA III ready for show­time, court tells FDA to re-work com­pound­ing plan, new guid­ance up­dates and more

The FDA has now spelled out what exactly will be included in the third iteration of Biosimilar User Fee Act (BsUFA) from 2023 through 2027, which similarly to the prescription drug deal, sets fees that industry has to pay for submitting applications, in exchange for firm timelines that the agency must meet.

This latest deal includes several sweeteners for the biosimilar industry, which has yet to make great strides in the US market, with shorter review timelines for safety labeling updates and updates to add or remove an indication that does not contain efficacy data.

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