Pfiz­er on­col­o­gy head Liz Bar­rett jumps ship to No­var­tis as Bruno St­rig­i­ni steps aside

Liz Bar­rett

No­var­tis $NVS has found a suc­ces­sor to out­go­ing on­col­o­gy chief Bruno St­rig­i­ni — at Pfiz­er. Liz Bar­rett, cur­rent glob­al pres­i­dent of on­col­o­gy at Pfiz­er, has been tapped to run the show at No­var­tis.

Bruno St­rig­i­ni

Bar­rett has big shoes to fill. The Swiss drug­mak­er has tak­en up a large pres­ence in can­cer since hir­ing St­rig­i­ni — who’s says he’s re­tir­ing from the in­dus­try al­to­geth­er — from a se­nior Mer­ck po­si­tion in the sum­mer of 2014. Par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable are its role in spear­head­ing the first CAR-T to hit the mar­ket and the in­te­gra­tion of GSK’s on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio.

But Bar­rett’s CV sug­gests she’s well equipped for the task. A J&J vet­er­an, Bar­rett has been with Pfiz­er $PFE since 2009. Dur­ing the last three years when she was glob­al pres­i­dent of on­col­o­gy, the phar­ma gi­ant has man­aged to ac­com­plish some break­throughs in that field — first launch­ing breast can­cer ther­a­py Ibrance in­to block­buster ter­ri­to­ry, then mak­ing its way in­to the PD-1/L1 race with Mer­ck KGaA-part­nered Baven­cio. A few months ago Pfiz­er won an ac­cel­er­at­ed OK for its CD22-tar­get­ed can­cer drug Be­spon­sa (in­o­tuzum­ab), for which an­a­lysts are pre­dict­ing peak sales of $2 bil­lion.

Andy Schmeltz

Ac­cord­ing to a Pfiz­er spokesper­son, Andy Schmeltz will suc­ceed Bar­rett in run­ning Pfiz­er’s glob­al can­cer drug unit. Schmeltz is cur­rent­ly SVP, pa­tient & health im­pact, with pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence lead­ing the North Amer­i­ca on­col­o­gy busi­ness dur­ing his 15-year tenure at the com­pa­ny. In that post, he over­saw the launch­es of Xalko­ri, In­ly­ta and Bo­sulif.

“On­col­o­gy re­mains a pri­or­i­ty growth area for Pfiz­er sup­port­ed by ro­bust prod­uct port­fo­lio and de­vel­op­ment pipeline,” the spokesper­son told End­points. “We thank Liz for her con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing her tenure at Pfiz­er.”

The ap­point­ment will bring Bar­rett, who’s cur­rent­ly based in New York City, to Basel, Switzer­land. She’s no stranger to Eu­rope, as she had a short stint in the UK as Pfiz­er’s pres­i­dent in the con­ti­nent.

Vas­ant Narasimhan

She will start on Feb­ru­ary 1, the same day Vas Narasimhan, No­var­tis’ glob­al head of drug de­vel­op­ment, is of­fi­cial­ly el­e­vat­ed as CEO.

“[Liz] has been in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing new com­mer­cial mod­els, dri­ving in­no­va­tion in close part­ner­ship with re­search and de­vel­op­ment and lever­ag­ing busi­ness de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Narasimhan said. “Her long-time com­mer­cial phar­ma in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence, mar­ket­ing skills and per­spec­tives make Liz a great fit to fur­ther de­vel­op our on­col­o­gy busi­ness.”

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.

As­traZeneca, Dai­ichi Sanky­o's ADC En­her­tu blows away Roche's Kad­cy­la in sec­ond-line ad­vanced breast can­cer

AstraZeneca and Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo think they’ve struck gold with their next-gen ADC drug Enhertu, which has shown some striking data in late-stage breast cancer trials and early solid tumor tests. Getting into earlier patients is now the goal, starting with Enhertu’s complete walkover of a Roche drug in second-line breast cancer revealed Saturday.

Enhertu cut the risk of disease progression or death by a whopping 72% (p=<0.0001) compared with Roche’s ADC Kadcyla in second-line unresectable and/or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer patients who had previously undergone treatment with a Herceptin-chemo combo, according to interim data from the Phase III DESTINY-Breast03 head-to-head study presented at this weekend’s #ESMO21.

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