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.

Norbert Bischofberger. Kronos

Backed by some of the biggest names in biotech, Nor­bert Bischof­berg­er gets his megaround for plat­form tech out of MIT

A little over a year ago when I reported on Norbert Bischofberger’s jump from the CSO job at giant Gilead to a tiny upstart called Kronos, I noted that with his connections in biotech finance, that $18 million launch round he was starting off with could just as easily have been $100 million or more.

With his first anniversary now behind him, Bischofberger has that mega-round in the bank.

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Part club, part guide, part land­lord: Arie Bellde­grun is blue­print­ing a string of be­spoke biotech com­plex­es in glob­al boom­towns — start­ing with Boston

The biotech industry is getting a landlord, unlike anything it’s ever known before.

Inspired by his recent experiences scrounging for space in Boston and the Bay Area, master biotech builder, investor, and global dealmaker Arie Belldegrun has organized a new venture to build a new, 250,000 square foot biopharma building in Boston’s Seaport district — home to Vertex and a number of up-and-coming biotech players.

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Novotech CRO Ex­pands Chi­na Team as Biotech De­mand for Clin­i­cal Tri­als In­creas­es up to 79%

An increase in demand of up to 79% for clinical trials in China has prompted Novotech the Asia-Pacific CRO to rapidly expand the China team, appointing expert local clinical executives to their Shanghai and Hong Kong offices. The company is planning to expand their team by 30% over the next quarter.

Novotech China has seen considerable demand recently which is borne out by research from GlobalData:
A global migration of clinical research is occurring from high-income countries to low and middle-income countries with emerging economies. Over the period 2017 to 2018, for example, the number of clinical trial sites opened by biotech companies in Asia-Pacific increased by 35% compared to 8% in the rest of the world, with growth as high as 79% in China.
Novotech CEO Dr John Moller said China offers the largest population in the world, rapid economic growth, and an increasing willingness by government to invest in research and development.
Novotech’s 23 years of experience working in the region means we are the ideal CRO partner for USA biotechs wanting to tap the research expertise and opportunities that China offers.
There are over 22,000 active investigators in Greater China, with about 5,000 investigators with experience on at least 3 studies (source GlobalData).

H1 analy­sis: The high-stakes ta­ble in the biotech deals casi­no is pay­ing out some record-set­ting win­nings

For years the big trend among dealmakers at the major players has been centered on ratcheting down upfront payments in favor of bigger milestones. Better known as biobucks for some. But with the top 15 companies competing for the kind of “transformative” pacts that can whip up some excitement on Wall Street, with some big biotechs like Regeneron now weighing in as well, cash is king at the high stakes table.

We asked Chris Dokomajilar, the head of DealForma, to crunch the numbers for us, looking over the top 20 deals for the past decade and breaking it all down into the top alliances already created in 2019. Gilead has clearly tipped the scales in terms of the coin of the bio-realm, with its record-setting $5 billion upfront to tie up to Galapagos’ entire pipeline.

Dokomajilar notes:

We’re going to need a ‘three comma club’ for the deals with over $1 billion in total upfront cash and equity. The $100 million-plus club is getting crowded at 164 deals in the last decade with new deals being added towards the top of the chart. 2019 already has 14 deals with at least $100 million in upfront cash and equity for a total year-to-date of over $9 billion. That beats last year’s $8 billion and sets a record.

Add upfronts and equity payments and you get $11.5 billion for the year, just shy of last year’s record-setting $11.8 billion.

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UP­DAT­ED: With loom­ing ‘apoc­a­lypse of drug re­sis­tance,’ Mer­ck’s com­bi­na­tion an­tibi­ot­ic scores FDA ap­proval on two fronts

Merck — one of the last large biopharmaceuticals companies in the beleaguered field of antibiotic drug development — on Wednesday said the FDA had sanctioned the approval of its combination antibacterial for the treatment of complicated urinary tract and intra-abdominal infections.

To curb the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the efficacy of the therapy, Recarbrio (and other antibacterials) — the drug must be used to treat or prevent infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by susceptible gram-negative bacteria, Merck $MRK said.

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John McHutchison in 2012. Getty Images

The $1.1M good­bye: Gilead CSO John McHutchi­son is out as Daniel O’Day shakes up the se­nior team

Just a little more than a year after John McHutchison grabbed a promotion to become CSO at Gilead in the wake of Norbert Bischofberger’s exit, he’s out amid a shakeup of the senior team that is also triggering the departure of two other top execs.

Gilead stated that McHutchison “has decided to step down” from the job as of August 2nd. And their SEC filing notes that he’ll be getting a $1.1 million check to settle up on his contract.

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Thomas Gajewski, David Steinberg. (CRI, Pyxis)

Bay­er, Long­wood back star re­searcher's deep dive in­to the tu­mor mi­croen­vi­ron­ment for new I/O tar­gets

From PD-1 targeting to the RAS pathway to the STING complex, Thomas Gajewski has spent the past two decades of his career decoding the various ways the immune system can be unleashed to defend against cancer. So when the University of Chicago professor comes around to putting all his findings into a new platform for finding new targets, VCs and pharma groups alike pay attention.

“He’s been studying T cells for 20 years, plus he’s one of the world’s leaders if not the world leader in the space,” David Steinberg, partner at Longwood Fund, said. “Furthermore, let me add he did a lot of the foundational research and also some of the seminal clinical trials in the existing set of I/O agents. He understands the space really well, he understands the current strengths, and I think he understood really well what was missing, so he knew where to look.”

Kamala Harris speaking yesterday at the Des Moines Register Iowa Presidential Candidate Forum [via Getty]

Who’s the tough­est on drug prices? A game of po­lit­i­cal one-up­man­ship is dri­ving the pol­i­cy de­bate in Wash­ing­ton

Earlier this week we got a look at Senator Kamala Harris’ position on drug prices. She’s proposing that HHS take an average price from single-payer systems like the UK, Germany and Canada — which leverage market access for lower prices — and use that to set the US price. Anything drug companies collect above that would be taxed at a rate of 100%.

And the rhetoric is scathing:
While families struggle to make it to the end of the month, pharmaceutical companies are turning record profits. They’re spending nearly as much on advertising as R&D. They’re manipulating their market power to hike prices on lifesaving generic drugs. They’re making twice the profit of the average industry in America and still increased drug prices by 10.5% over the past six months alone. Meanwhile, they are charging dramatically higher prices to American consumers.
That’s an escalation on Joe Biden’s plan, which includes drug importation from those cheaper markets as well as allowing Medicare to negotiate prices — something that virtually all Dems agree on now.

SJ Lee [File photo]

Go­ing in­side cells, Sung Joo Lee has sketched some big goals for his small — but glob­al — team of drug hunters

For a small biotech based in South Korea with a research arm in Cambridge, MA, Orum Therapeutics has sketched out some big goals aimed at developing antibodies for intracellular targets. And now they have a new $30 million round to push the work forward, aiming at a slate of currently undruggable quests.

Orum has been working on a platform tech out of Ajou University that relies on endocytosis to smuggle antibodies and their cargo inside a cell. They’ve published work in Nature that illustrates its preclinical potential in RAS mutations, and KRAS is on their list of targets. 

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