Lud­wig Hantson is clean­ing house at Alex­ion, boot­ing R&D chief Mar­tin Mack­ay and oth­er ex­ecs

Lud­wig Hantson

Two months ago, ex-Bax­al­ta CEO Lud­wig Hantson got the CEO’s job at Alex­ion $ALXN af­ter the for­mer helms­man got the heave-ho fol­low­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that the com­pa­ny had been push­ing ad­vance sales to make the num­bers look bet­ter.

To­day, Hantson is clean­ing house and prepar­ing to bring in his own team.

Mar­tin Mack­ay

The group of de­part­ing ex­ecs in­cludes R&D chief Mar­tin Mack­ay, who is now be­ing forced out for the sec­ond time since he was oust­ed by Pas­cal So­ri­ot as head of R&D at a strug­gling As­traZeneca in ear­ly 2013. Mack­ay will leave at the end of Au­gust.

Chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Carsten Thiel will be the first to go on June 1. He’s be­ing re­placed by Bax­al­ta vet Bri­an Goff. CFO David An­der­son, in the job on­ly six months, is al­so on the way out at the end of Au­gust. And Clare Carmichael, the head of hu­man re­sources, is al­so leav­ing June 1.

Alex­ion’s shares tanked, drop­ping 9.3% on news of the lat­est up­heaval at the biotech.

Leerink’s Ge­of­frey Porges didn’t sound sur­prised by the spring clean­ing in the C-suite. Hantson, he says, has been pro­found­ly dis­pleased by the pipeline, with the ex­cep­tion of ALXN1210. He notes:

Af­ter these re­movals and re­place­ments, none of the man­age­ment team that built the Soliris busi­ness, or presided over the val­ue-de­stroy­ing Synage­va deal in 2015, re­main in place. While the suc­cess of these tran­si­tions can on­ly be judged ret­ro­spec­tive­ly, we are at least en­cour­aged tht the new CEO is tak­ing de­ci­sive steps to fo­cus the com­pa­ny on sim­ple steps. These steps are aligned with main­tain­ing and grow­ing the Soliris busi­ness, cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the op­por­tu­ni­ty for MG and the line ex­ten­sion ALXN1210.

Mack­ay has had a long and sto­ried ca­reer in R&D. For­mer As­traZeneca CEO David Bren­nan — who iron­i­cal­ly filled the in­ter­im CEO role at Alex­ion af­ter the first purge in De­cem­ber — poached him from a top job at Pfiz­er. And Mack­ay was wheel­ing and deal­ing his way to beef­ing up Big Phar­ma’s worst pipeline when So­ri­ot ar­rived.

Mack­ay earned $4.2 mil­lion in to­tal com­pen­sa­tion last year, man­ag­ing a $757 mil­lion re­search bud­get.

Bren­nan, mean­while, is now chair­man of the board af­ter Alex­ion founder Leonard Bell an­nounced his de­ci­sion to leave that post in March as the biotech was start­ing a com­plete over­haul.

Hantson had noth­ing but nice things to say about the ex­ecs he was push­ing out of the com­pa­ny. On Mack­ay, he said:

The R&D func­tion at Alex­ion is core to our busi­ness and to our fu­ture, and it is our in­tent to re­cruit a new head of R&D who can build on Mar­tin’s suc­cess­es. Dur­ing his time at Alex­ion, Mar­tin dis­tin­guished him­self as a leader in re­search­ing and de­vel­op­ing promis­ing ther­a­pies for rare dis­eases while build­ing an out­stand­ing R&D lead­er­ship team and or­ga­ni­za­tion. Mar­tin al­so led the de­vel­op­ment of Stren­siq, bring­ing the first en­zyme re­place­ment ther­a­py to mar­ket for pa­tients with hy­pophos­phata­sia, and sig­nif­i­cant­ly ad­vanced our com­ple­ment pipeline pro­grams.

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.

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