Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s departing R&D chief

Ex­clu­sive: As­traZeneca’s out­go­ing R&D chief Mene Pan­ga­los re­flects on a 14-year R&D turn­around and the in­dus­try's fu­ture

When As­traZeneca R&D ex­ec­u­tive Mene Pan­ga­los joined the com­pa­ny in 2010, the UK drug gi­ant was fac­ing ex­is­ten­tial threats: shrink­ing sales, a meek pipeline and a takeover at­tempt by Pfiz­er.

Pan­ga­los saw the biggest prob­lem: As­traZeneca’s re­search wasn’t de­liv­er­ing. As­traZeneca had a 4% suc­cess rate in bring­ing drugs through Phase III, trail­ing a 6% in­dus­try av­er­age. He pushed a new fo­cus on qual­i­ty over quan­ti­ty that, from 2012 to 2016, drove As­traZeneca’s suc­cess rate to 19% — even as the in­dus­try av­er­age fell to 4%.

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