Peer Re­view: GSK re­cruits a star can­cer sci­en­tist to its board ahead of R&D re­or­ga­ni­za­tion

Lau­rie Glim­ch­er FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Get­ty


Glax­o­SmithK­line has just ap­point­ed Lau­rie Glim­ch­er — a pi­o­neer­ing sci­en­tist and a cham­pi­on for ad­vanc­ing women to se­nior po­si­tions in the bio­med­ical world — to its board. Up un­til just 7 days ago, she was al­so on the board of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, a trend­set­ter in the block­buster im­muno-on­col­o­gy world. And the move just may say some­thing about GSK CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley’s ideas about the fu­ture of the com­pa­ny, which now re­port­ed­ly in­clude a plan to re­vamp the pipeline.

Glim­ch­er is the CEO of Dana-Far­ber, one of the most pres­ti­gious can­cer re­search cen­ters in the world. She is al­so a re­searcher who has de­vot­ed a con­sid­er­able amount of lab time to im­muno-on­col­o­gy, a sub­ject she helped cov­er dur­ing her 20 years on the board of Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, a post which she abrupt­ly jumped out of a week ago with a note about her “re­tire­ment.”

GSK Chair­man Philip Hamp­ton spot­light­ed her “wealth of ex­per­tise in sci­en­tif­ic and med­ical in­no­va­tion” for her new board role as a sci­en­tif­ic and med­ical ex­pert.

GSK com­plet­ed a high-pro­file as­set swap with No­var­tis a few years ago, ex­chang­ing its ma­ture can­cer projects and com­mer­cial prod­ucts with No­var­tis in ex­change for vac­cines. Since then, it’s made lit­tle head­way in the late-stage pipeline out­side of vac­cines and HIV, through its ma­jor­i­ty-owned sub­sidiary Vi­iV. Af­ter the Phase III washout of a slate of ma­jor can­di­dates, GSK slashed its US R&D group in North Car­oli­na as it cut costs and re­grouped. Since then phar­ma R&D has be­come one of its least ex­cit­ing fields, with no big prod­ucts in the late-stage pipeline to ex­cite in­vestors.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Reuters, Walm­s­ley is qui­et­ly plan­ning a re­vamp of the pipeline, look­ing to dump mar­gin­al projects and bring in new ones.

GSK, though, nev­er got out of on­col­o­gy. The phar­ma gi­ant re­tained a sig­nif­i­cant ear­ly-stage R&D group in can­cer, ex­e­cut­ing a part­ner­ship with the UK’s Adap­ti­m­mune. Any move to switch the spot­light back to on­col­o­gy would be a ma­jor change­up in the Big Phar­ma world. So you can ex­pect at least a few peo­ple to be pay­ing close at­ten­tion to this news.


David Meek­er

→ Ra­dius put out the word that it is mak­ing a change at the helm, with long­time CEO Bob Ward out and No­vo US pres­i­dent Jes­per Høi­land step­ping in to or­ches­trate the cam­paign for Ra­dius’ first mar­ket launch. The news ar­rived just af­ter Am­gen an­nounced that the FDA had for­mer­ly re­ject­ed its ri­val os­teo­poro­sis drug.

→ David Meek­er, the for­mer chief of Sanofi-Gen­zyme, has an­oth­er chair­man’s role to fill. This time he’s tak­ing the lead board chair at Tre­vi Ther­a­peu­tics, which just raised a $50 mil­lion C round.  Meek­er was named chair­man of Rhythm in April, fol­low­ing up with a board ap­point­ment at San Fran­cis­co-based MyoKar­dia.

→ My­ovant Sci­ences CEO Lynn Seely has been build­ing out her team. This week she named Matthew Lang as gen­er­al coun­sel and cor­po­rate sec­re­tary; Juan Cami­lo Ar­jona Fer­reira, has joined as chief med­ical of­fi­cer; Tere­sa Per­ney, PhD, has joined as se­nior vice pres­i­dent of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and qual­i­ty as­sur­ance; and An­dria Lan­gen­berg, has joined as head of drug safe­ty and phar­ma­covig­i­lance.

→ Sin­ga­pore-based Tes­sa Ther­a­peu­tics, an on­col­o­gy-fo­cused biotech which re­cent­ly part­nered with the Park­er In­sti­tute, an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Jen­nifer But­ler as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. She’s in charge of build­ing the com­pa­ny’s US op­er­a­tions.

→ Lon­don-based Au­to­lus has been adding to the T-cell team this week. Its new ex­ecs are Christo­pher Vann, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer; Matthias Alder, chief busi­ness of­fi­cer; Muham­mad Al-Ha­jj, SVP of trans­la­tion­al sci­ence and Nush­mia Khokar, VP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

→ Austin-based Ae­glea Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics $AGLE says that David Lowe re­signed as the com­pa­ny’s pres­i­dent, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and di­rec­tor, ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ate­ly. An­tho­ny Quinn, has been ap­point­ed to serve as in­ter­im chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer while the com­pa­ny con­ducts a com­pre­hen­sive search for a per­ma­nent chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Sier­ra On­col­o­gy brings on for­mer Aim­mune CEO to the helm; Flag­ship woos ex-No­var­tis ex­ec Fab­rice Chouraqui

Momelotinib-focused Sierra Oncology, which launched a Phase III trial in November for myelofibrosis patients, has made Stephen Dilly its president and CEO, effective June 1. Dilly was previously the CEO at Aimmune from 2014 until what was billed as his retirement in 2018, but now he’s back at the helm of another company and is also a member of Sierra’s board of directors. Additionally, the seasoned vet has held posts at Genentech, Chiron and GSK.

David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Look­ing to move past an R&D fi­as­co, Ipsen poach­es their new CEO from Sanofi

Ipsen has turned to another Paris-based biopharma company for its next CEO.

Sanofi Pasteur chief David Loew — who’s been leading one of the most advanced efforts to develop vaccines for Covid-19 — is making the journey to Ipsen, 5 months after David Meek jumped ship to run a startup in late-stage development.

Loew arrives as Ipsen works to get back on track with their rare bone disease drug palovarotene, picked up in the $1.3 billion Clementia buyout, which was slammed with a partial hold after researchers observed cases of “early growth plate closure” in patients under the age of 14. But they are pushing ahead with the over-14 crowd after writing down slightly more than half of its initial development.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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