Peer Review

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.


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