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.

Bris­tol My­ers is clean­ing up the post-Cel­gene merg­er pipeline, and they’re sweep­ing out an ex­per­i­men­tal check­point in the process

Back during the lead up to the $74 billion buyout of Celgene, the big biotech’s leadership did a little housecleaning with a major pact it had forged with Jounce. Out went the $2.6 billion deal and a collaboration on ICOS and PD-1.

Celgene, though, also added a $530 million deal — $50 million up front — to get the worldwide rights to JTX-8064, a drug that targets the LILRB2 receptor on macrophages.

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Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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Fangliang Zhang, AP Images

UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Mer­ck wins a third FDA nod for an­tibi­ot­ic; Mereo tack­les TIG­IT with $70M raise in hand

Merck — one of the last big pharma bastions in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Friday said the FDA had signed off on using its combination drug, Recarbrio, with hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia. The drug could come handy for use in hospitalized patients who are afflicted with Covid-19, who carry a higher risk of contracting secondary bacterial infections. Once SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Covid-19, infects the airways, it engages the immune system, giving other pathogens free rein to pillage and plunder as they please — the issue is particularly pertinent in patients on ventilators, which in any case are breeding grounds for infectious bacteria.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.