The C-suite shuffle: Oncopeptides, Zymeworks replace execs to start 2023
Two biotechs are shuffling their C-suites as the calendar turns to the new year: Oncopeptides and Zymeworks.
Oncopeptides announced Wednesday that it’s replacing CEO Jakob Lindberg with Monica Shaw as Lindberg returns to the chief science position. Zymeworks, meanwhile, removed chief medical officer Neil Josephson without naming a replacement. The biotech said Jeffrey Smith, the Alder BioPharmaceuticals founder who engineered a $2 billion sale to Lundbeck in 2019, will take over early R&D.
Neither stock reacted much to the news. Oncopeptides shares fell a little over 1% on Wednesday, while Zymeworks $ZYME — which announced a large helping of other new-year updates — was up about 1%.
For Oncopeptides, the move comes after a back-and-forth with the FDA over a dangling accelerated approval for its cancer drug Pepaxto. US regulators pulled the drug’s indication in a late-line multiple myeloma setting after a fiery advisory committee hearing at which the agency criticized other companies amid a broader push for accelerated approval reform.
Lindberg, in an interview with Endpoints News after the indication was yanked, said the company was leaning toward giving up the fight to keep it approved, emphasizing a legal battle likely wouldn’t be worth it. He also lamented the “pissing contest” that ensued between Oncopeptides and the FDA over Pepaxto’s approval.
Shaw now takes over after Lindberg spent a little over a year at the helm. She is a GSK and Leo Pharma vet, with Oncopeptides touting her experience in bringing 15 drugs through Phase III studies to the market in a press release.
Zymeworks’ shakeup comes just a few weeks after the company secured an opt-in from a deal with Jazz Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on zanidatamab, a drug being developed for multiple HER2-expressing cancers. Jazz forked over $325 million upfront and promised up to $1.76 billion in milestones, plus royalties potentially reaching up to 20%.
It’s the second zanidatamab benchmark Zymeworks and Jazz reached in the fourth quarter of 2022, following an initial $50 million upfront deal reached last October.