Per­ri­go taps ex-to­bac­co ex­ec as new CEO; Dana Far­ber T cell in­ves­ti­ga­tor Nick Hain­ing joins Mer­ck

Mur­ray Kessler

→ Less than a year af­ter tak­ing over Per­ri­go $PR­GO from long­time CEO John Hen­drick­son, Uwe Röhrhoff has picked a suc­ces­sor to ex­e­cute the new vi­sion he cast for the OTC and gener­ic drug com­pa­ny. A for­mer to­bac­co ex­ec­u­tive, Mur­ray Kessler is tasked with lead­ing Per­ri­go’s con­sumer-fo­cused strat­e­gy as it spins out its pre­scrip­tion drug busi­ness.

→ We found out last week that Pfiz­er had tapped Ian Read’s care­ful­ly groomed suc­ces­sor Al­bert Bourla for the top C-suite post at the phar­ma gi­ant. And right on the heels of that an­nounce­ment, Pfiz­er re­vealed that they have al­so de­cid­ed to shake up the top team.

Pfiz­er is start­ing by ex­pand­ing the top group of ex­ecs, hir­ing Lidia Fon­se­ca from Quest Di­ag­nos­tics to lead up the com­pa­ny’s dig­i­tal ef­forts across re­search, dis­cov­ery and busi­ness process­es — fol­low­ing a fo­cus that No­var­tis and oth­ers have put a pre­mi­um on over the past year. Fon­se­ca’s new ti­tle is chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer, or CDO.

Ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent, PGS, Kirsten Lund-Ju­r­gensen, will re­tire at the end of the year af­ter 19 years at Pfiz­er, along with Lau­rie Ol­son, EVP of strat­e­gy & com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions.

→ Fol­low­ing Scott Gar­land’s de­par­ture for the top job at Por­to­la, Re­lyp­sa has pro­mot­ed its chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer to fill the pres­i­dent role on an in­ter­im ba­sis. Patrick Tre­anor, who was first hired in 2015 to set up the US launch of Veltas­sa (patiromer), will keep his cur­rent ti­tle.

Gad Sof­fer

Third Rock Ven­tures-backed Rheos Med­i­cines has scooped Gad Sof­fer from Atara Bio­ther­a­peu­tics to join its start­up team. As COO, Sof­fer is en­trust­ed with busi­ness strat­e­gy, cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tions, and ex­ter­nal re­la­tions while the clin­i­cal team works on im­munome­tab­o­lism. Al­so join­ing the biotech: for­mer Agios COO Dun­can Hig­gons, who’s tak­ing a board seat along­side Third Rock part­ners and UCSF pro­fes­sors.

→ Af­ter steer­ing TaiMed’s HIV drug to an FDA ap­proval, Stan­ley Lewis is back at late-stage an­tivi­ral de­vel­op­ment with a new job as CMO of An­sun Bio­phar­ma. In ex­e­cut­ing the Phase III pro­gram for DAS181, a treat­ment for parain­fluen­za, he will be joined by Genen­tech vet Con­nie Lu, who’s been named VP of qual­i­ty.

→ With Phase III pro­grams for its Botox ri­val in full swing, Re­vance Ther­a­peu­tics $RVNC has tapped To­bin Schilke as CFO. Com­mend­ed by CEO Dan Browne for his ex­pe­ri­ence rais­ing cap­i­tal, com­plet­ing M&As and lead­ing fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions, Schilke pre­vi­ous­ly held the same role at Achao­gen af­ter spend­ing 13 years at Roche/Genen­tech

→ As Take­da spin­out Cere­vance be­gins to yield nov­el tar­gets from its dis­cov­ery plat­form, feed­ing in­to its pipeline al­ready full of pre­clin­i­cal and clin­i­cal neu­ro­science pro­grams, it’s re­cruit­ed Ted Hi­bben as chief busi­ness of­fi­cer. Hi­bben’s re­sume car­ries a string of deals he’s or­ches­trat­ed at biotechs like Cataba­sis, En­sem­ble and Ce­quent.

Thomas Cu­ra­to­lo, a sales vet­er­an who spent a decade each at Shire and J&J, has joined Tris Phar­ma as chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer. While the most ad­vanced prod­ucts in Tris’ pipeline are a pair of cold meds part­nered with Ver­nalis, the com­pa­ny wants Cu­ra­to­lo to fo­cus on build­ing its AD­HD port­fo­lio — an area it wants to lead in.

→ Emerg­ing from the sting of its fourth re­jec­tion at the FDA, Pain Ther­a­peu­tics $PTIE has ap­point­ed Er­ic Schoen — for­mer­ly of Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers — as CFO.

Maria Ek­lind-Cer­ven­ka

→ Af­ter ro­tat­ing through sev­er­al med­ical af­fairs posts at Boehringer In­gel­heim, As­traZeneca and most re­cent­ly So­bi, Maria Ek­lind-Cer­ven­ka has land­ed at phar­ma ser­vice com­pa­ny In­cep­tua. While her ti­tle is chief med­ical of­fi­cer, her fo­cus will be on sup­port­ing the com­mer­cial prod­ucts unit’s ex­pan­sion in­to new mar­kets.

Har­vard pro­fes­sor Nick Hain­ing, who runs a lab study­ing the mech­a­nisms that reg­u­late T cell func­tion at Dana Far­ber and the Broad In­sti­tute, is join­ing Mer­ck as a VP of on­col­o­gy. In a tweet an­nounc­ing the news, he said he is “thrilled to be lead­ing a world-class team dis­cov­er­ing med­i­cines for the peo­ple who need them most.”

So­bi has named rare dis­ease ex­pert Car­ol Satler VP, med­ical af­fairs in its North Amer­i­can unit, sup­port­ing clin­i­cal pro­grams, new prod­uct launch­es and the com­mer­cial port­fo­lio. Pri­or to her most re­cent stint at Gilead, Satler has worked in sim­i­lar roles at Bay­er, UCB and Mil­len­ni­um.

→ Cam­bridge, MA-based im­muno-on­col­o­gy play­er Torque has re­cruit­ed three sea­soned ex­ecs to sup­port its en­try in­to the clin­ic. For­mer Pfiz­er and No­var­tis staffer Karsten Sauer will be VP, im­munol­o­gy; VP, clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment Tap Ma­niar joins with ex­pe­ri­ence from Atara and Am­gen; Eden Fuc­ci is com­ing on board as VP, bi­o­log­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing.

→ Right on the heels of an in­dus­try-wide no­tice from BIO to speed up gen­der di­ver­si­ty in the C-suite and board­room, Al­ny­lam is adding to its ros­ter with the ap­point­ment of for­mer FDA com­mis­sion­er Mar­garet Ham­burg to the board. Slat­ed to be­come a di­rec­tor on Jan­u­ary 10, 2019, Ham­burg takes the seat of John Clarke, who’s re­tir­ing from the board af­ter 16 years of ser­vice — in­clud­ing 13 years as the chair.

→ Ea­ger to put its trou­bles with the SEC re­gard­ing ro­ci da­ta be­hind them, Clo­vis On­col­o­gy $CLVS has ap­point­ed Alder CEO Robert Azel­by and Bel­licum CEO Richard Fair to its board of di­rec­tors.

Aerial view of Genentech's campus in South San Francisco [Credit: Getty]

Genen­tech sub­mits a big plan to ex­pand its South San Fran­cis­co foot­print

The sign is still there, a quaint reminder of whitewashed concrete not 5 miles from Genentech’s sprawling, chrome-and-glass campus: South Francisco The Industrial City. 

The city keeps the old sign, first erected in 1923, as a tourist site and a kind of civic memento to the days it packed meat, milled lumber and burned enough steel to earn the moniker “Smokestack of the Peninsula.” But the real indication of where you are and how much has changed both in San Francisco and in the global economy since a couple researchers and investors rented out an empty warehouse 40 years ago comes in a far smaller blue sign, resembling a Rotary Club post, off the highway: South San Francisco, The Birthplace of Biotech.

Here comes the oral GLP-1 drug for di­a­betes — but No­vo Nordisk is­n't dis­clos­ing Ry­bel­sus price just yet

Novo Nordisk’s priority review voucher on oral semaglutide has paid off. The FDA approval for the GLP-1 drug hit late Friday morning, around six months after the NDA filing.

Rybelsus will be the first GLP-1 pill to enter the type 2 diabetes market — a compelling offering that analysts have pegged as a blockbuster drug with sales estimates ranging from $2 billion to $5 billion.

Ozempic, the once-weekly injectable formulation of semaglutide, brought in around $552 million (DKK 3.75 billion) in the first half of 2019.

As Nas­daq en­rolls the fi­nal batch of 2019 IPOs, how have the num­bers com­pared to past years?

IGM Biosciences’ upsized IPO haul, coming after SpringWorks’ sizable public debut, has revved up some momentum for the last rush of biotech IPOs in 2019.

With 39 new listings on the books and roughly two more months to go before winding down, Nasdaq’s head of healthcare listings Jordan Saxe sees the exchange marking 50 to 60 biopharma IPOs for the year.

“December 15 is usually the last possible day that companies will price,” he said, as companies get ready for business talks at the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January.

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Oxitec biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil in 2016 [credit: Getty Images]

In­trex­on unit push­es back against claims its GM mos­qui­toes are mak­ing dis­ease-friend­ly mu­tants

When the hysteria of Zika transmission sprang into the American zeitgeist a few years ago, UK-based Oxitec was already field-testing its male Aedes aegypti mosquito, crafted to possess a gene engineered to obliterate its progeny long before maturation.

But when a group of independent scientists evaluated the impact of the release of these genetically-modified mosquitoes in a trial conducted by Oxitec in Brazil between 2013 and 2015, they found that some of the offspring had managed to survive — prompting them to speculate what impact the survivors could have on disease transmission and/or insecticide resistance.

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[via AP Images]

Pur­due threat­ens to walk away from set­tle­ment, asks to pay em­ploy­ees mil­lions in bonus­es

There are two updates on the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma over its role in fueling the opioid epidemic, as the Sackler family threatens to walk away from their pledge to pay out $3 billion if a bankruptcy judge does not stop outstanding state lawsuits against them. At the same time, the company has asked permission to pay millions in bonuses to select employees.

Purdue filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this week as part of its signed resolution to over 2,000 lawsuits. The deal would see the Sackler family that owns Purdue give $3 billion from their personal wealth and the company turned into a trust committed to curbing and reversing overdoses.

David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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Scott Gottlieb, AP Images

Scott Got­tlieb is once again join­ing a team that en­joyed good times at the FDA un­der his high-en­er­gy stint at the helm

Right after jumping on Michael Milken’s FasterCures board on Monday, the newly departed FDA commissioner is back today with news about another life sciences board post that gives him a ringside chair to cheer on a lead player in the real-world evidence movement — one with very close ties to the FDA.

Aetion is reporting this morning that Gottlieb is joining their board, a group that includes Mohamad Makhzoumi, a general partner at New Enterprise Associates, where Gottlieb returned after stepping out of his role at the FDA 2 years after he started.

Gottlieb — one of the best connected execs in biopharma — knows this company well. As head of FDA he championed the use of real-world evidence to help guide drug developers and the agency in gaining greater efficiencies, which helped set up Aetion as a high-profile player in the game.

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Tower Bridge in London [Shutterstock]

#UK­BIO19: Join GSK’s Hal Bar­ron and a group of top biotech ex­ecs for our 2nd an­nu­al biotech sum­mit in Lon­don

Over the past 10 years I’ve made a point of getting to know the Golden Triangle and the special role the UK biopharma industry plays there in drug development. The concentration of world class research institutes, some of the most accomplished scientists I’ve ever seen at work and a rising tide of global investment cash leaves an impression that there’s much, much more to come as biotech hubs are birthed and nurtured.