Richard Pas­coe takes the helm at His­to­gen; Lon­za COO steps up at CEO Richard Ridinger re­tires

Richard Pas­coe

→ Hav­ing hand­ed off trou­bled mi­cro­cap biotech Apri­cus Bio­sciences to See­los Ther­a­peu­tics via a merg­er, Richard Pas­coe is mov­ing on to his next CEO (and chair­man) gig at His­to­gen. The re­gen­er­a­tive med­i­cine de­vel­op­er is an­tic­i­pat­ing da­ta from a clin­i­cal tri­al in fe­male hair loss this year, and the board likes Pas­coe’s ex­pe­ri­ence in both fundrais­ing and reg­u­la­to­ry deal­ings. Pas­coe al­so ap­pears to have a pen­chant for com­pa­nies that get ab­sorbed, in­clud­ing So­max­on Phar­ma, Ari­ad and Pfiz­er-ac­quired King Phar­ma.  

→ While Lon­za had in­vestors’ at­ten­tion with its full-year re­sults, the Swiss drug man­u­fac­tur­er has an­nounced that CEO Richard Ridinger is re­tir­ing from the com­pa­ny af­ter sev­en years. Marc Funk, the cur­rent COO of the phar­ma and biotech di­vi­sion, will step up to the role on 1 March. Lon­za adds that Ridinger, who has po­si­tioned the com­pa­ny for big roles in drug de­liv­ery tech as well as cell and gene ther­a­py, “in­tends to build a port­fo­lio of non-ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions” mov­ing for­ward.

→ Fi­brot­ic dis­ease drug de­vel­op­er In­da­lo Ther­a­peu­tics has ap­point­ed Robert Jacks as its pres­i­dent and CEO, who comes from Sym­bio­mix Ther­a­peu­tics where he served as co-founder, pres­i­dent and CFO. The com­pa­ny is ex­pect­ed to take its lead drug, IDL-2965, in­to the clin­ic in ear­ly 2019.

Aarif Khakoo

Arthur Levin­son has re­cruit­ed an Am­gen vet as Cal­i­co’s new head of de­vel­op­ment for every­thing in pre­clin­i­cal through Phase II de­vel­op­ment at Google’s buzzy an­ti-ag­ing biotech. Aarif Khakoo, who most re­cent­ly head­ed a team of 100 in­ves­ti­ga­tors do­ing the trans­la­tion­al work at Am­gen, is head­ed over to Cal­i­co, which has its base in South San Fran­cis­co. His ear­li­er work left him in charge of every­thing from first-in-hu­man to proof-of-con­cept stud­ies for car­diometa­bol­ic, in­flam­ma­tion, neu­ro­science and on­col­o­gy, as well as clin­i­cal bio­mark­ers, in vit­ro di­ag­nos­tics, and dig­i­tal health.

→ Af­ter a brief stint at Cel­gene, Alek­san­dra Ri­zo is jump­ing over to Geron to head up late-stage de­vel­op­ment work for ime­tel­stat. The new CMO worked on myeloid com­pound de­vel­op­ment dur­ing a lengthy ca­reer at J&J’s Janssen, where she over­saw this pre­cise pro­gram be­fore the phar­ma gi­ant dumped its once high­ly tout­ed pact with Geron. The set­backs, though, have not de­terred the Men­lo Park, CA-based biotech from open­ing up a New Jer­sey of­fice to sup­port the new clin­i­cal team un­der Ri­zo.

Corvus Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $CRVS has scooped Mehrdad Mobash­er from Genen­tech to be its CMO. As the de­vel­op­ment lead for vene­to­clax (Ven­clex­ta), Mobash­er brings some fresh ex­pe­ri­ence hus­tling blood can­cer drugs through the clin­ic. Corvus’ most ad­vanced ex­per­i­men­tal ther­a­pies, now in Phase I/Ib and Ib/II tri­als, both tar­get the adeno­sine path­way.

Por­to­la has ap­point­ed Mer­ck vet Shel­don Koenig to fill the chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer po­si­tion, which has been va­cant since Tao Fu left for Zai Lab. In ad­di­tion to 25 years at Mer­ck’s car­dio­vas­cu­lar unit, Koenig al­so brings ex­pe­ri­ence lead­ing busi­ness op­er­a­tions and in­ter­na­tion­al prod­uct launch­es for Sanofi. He will hit the ground run­ning with the roll­out of An­dexxa, Por­to­la’s $PT­LA re­ver­sal agent for Fac­tor Xa an­ti­co­ag­u­lants.

Dim­itris Vo­li­o­tis

→ Af­ter ded­i­cat­ing years of his aca­d­e­m­ic and bio­phar­ma ca­reer to on­col­o­gy, Dim­itris Vo­li­o­tis is broad­en­ing his ther­a­peu­tic fo­cus at mR­NA spe­cial­ist Cure­Vac. The Bay­er vet — who was most re­cent­ly at Ei­sai — has been tapped as chief de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer, a role that gives him im­mense R&D re­spon­si­bil­i­ty from dis­cov­ery to reg­u­la­to­ry fil­ing for the com­pa­ny’s pipeline of can­cer as well as rare and in­fec­tious dis­ease treat­ments. He will be based in the Boston of­fice and make reg­u­lar trips to the Ger­man biotech’s sites in Tübin­gen and Frank­furt.

Gi­ga­Gen has el­e­vat­ed Adam Adler to CSO in recog­ni­tion of his con­tri­bu­tion to the com­pa­ny’s dis­cov­ery re­search and grow­ing R&D team — of mi­croflu­idic en­gi­neers, mol­e­c­u­lar bi­ol­o­gists, im­mu­nol­o­gists, and can­cer bi­ol­o­gists — dur­ing his last five years as VP. A Genen­tech alum, Adler has been cred­it­ed for cre­at­ing Gi­ga­Gen’s im­mune analy­sis and drug dis­cov­ery tech­nol­o­gy, a big boost to its poly­clon­al an­ti­body work, which is now part­nered with Gri­fols. Oth­er pro­mo­tions in­clude Re­na Mizrahi, the new VP of process de­vel­op­ment, and Cather­ine Med­i­na, VP of op­er­a­tions.

→ As Apel­lis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals $APLS read­ies a pitch for its Phase III pro­grams in ge­o­graph­ic at­ro­phy and parox­ys­mal noc­tur­nal he­mo­glo­bin­uria, the Ken­tucky biotech is open­ing an of­fice in Switzer­land. Thomas Lack­n­er, the new­ly ap­point­ed SVP and head of Eu­rope, will spear­head that ef­fort as well as glob­al com­mer­cial­iza­tion for Apel­lis’ com­ple­ment in­hibitors. Lack­n­er has been on the ground in the Swiss city of Zug for the past two years prep­ping a launch for Prothena’s ill-fat­ed lead pro­gram, fol­low­ing a 15-year ca­reer at Bio­gen.

IQVIA vet Mile­na Kano­va-Petro­va is tak­ing her 21 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in project man­age­ment to the young team at Nu­ve­lu­tion. As SVP of op­er­a­tions, she will con­sult with the late-stage as­sets that Nu­ve­lu­tion has brought un­der its wing through risk-shar­ing pro­grams.

→ Look­ing to up its game in trans­la­tion­al der­ma­tol­ogy and im­munol­o­gy, Den­mark’s LEO Phar­ma has re­cruit­ed Thomas Hultsch, Sanofi’s clin­i­cal lead on Dupix­ent, to be its head of trans­la­tion­al med­i­cine. Hultsch, who be­gan his in­dus­try ca­reer at No­var­tis, will help es­tab­lish a new group in Boston.

→ San Diego-based Turn­ing Point Ther­a­peu­tics has hired Robert Xin to over­see ear­ly-stage stud­ies and IND fil­ings for its ki­nase in­hibitors. Hav­ing filled a num­ber of on­col­o­gy roles at Pfiz­er, Roche/Genen­tech and Eli Lil­ly, Xin will now as­sume the ti­tle SVP of clin­i­cal de­vel­op­ment at Turn­ing Point.

Ka­ma­da has ap­point­ed Te­va vet Michal Ay­alon to suc­ceed Lil­iana Bar as the VP R&D re­tires from the com­pa­ny, which is fo­cused on plas­ma-de­rived pro­tein ther­a­peu­tics.

→ Fol­low­ing a string of stints in the bio­phar­ma ser­vices world, Michael Rasche has tak­en a job as in­ter­na­tion­al busi­ness head Metabolon, a Tri­an­gle Park, NC-based com­pa­ny ap­ply­ing its metabolomics plat­form in re­search, drug dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment, di­ag­nos­tics and ther­a­py re­sponse.

Dy­navax has named Heather Rowe, a sea­soned ex­ec with re­cent stints at Five Prime and Kythera, as its VP of in­vestor re­la­tions and cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions.  

John Hood [file photo]

UP­DATE: Cel­gene and the sci­en­tist who cham­pi­oned fe­dra­tinib's rise from Sanofi's R&D grave­yard win FDA OK

Six years after Sanofi gave it up for dead, the FDA has approved the myelofibrosis drug fedratinib, now owned by Celgene.

The drug will be sold as Inrebic, and will soon land in the portfolio at Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is finalizing a deal to acquire Celgene.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder was axed — and No­var­tis names a new CSO in wake of an ethics scan­dal

Now at the center of a storm of controversy over its decision to keep its knowledge of manipulated data hidden from regulators during an FDA review, Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has found a longtime veteran in the ranks to head the scientific work underway at AveXis, where the incident occurred. And the scientific founder has hit the exit.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Ab­b­Vie gets its FDA OK for JAK in­hibitor upadac­i­tinib, but don’t look for this one to hit ex­ecs’ lofty ex­pec­ta­tions

Another big drug approval came through on Friday afternoon as the FDA OK’d AbbVie’s upadacitinib — an oral JAK1 inhibitor that is hitting the rheumatoid arthritis market with a black box warning of serious malignancies, infections and thrombosis reflecting fears associated with the class.

It will be sold as Rinvoq — at a wholesale price of $59,000 a year — and will likely soon face competition from a drug that AbbVie once controlled, and spurned. Reuters reports that a 4-week supply of Humira, by comparison, is $5,174, adding up to about $67,000 a year.

The top 10 fran­chise drugs in bio­phar­ma his­to­ry will earn a to­tal of $1.4T (tril­lion) by 2024 — what does that tell us?

Just in case you were looking for more evidence of just how important Amgen’s patent win on Enbrel is for the company and its investors, EvaluatePharma has come up with a forward-looking consensus estimate on what the list of top 10 drugs will look like in 2024.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: Sci­en­tist-CEO ac­cused of im­prop­er­ly us­ing con­fi­den­tial in­fo from uni­corn Alec­tor

The executive team at Alector $ALEC has a bone to pick with scientific co-founder Asa Abeliovich. Their latest quarterly rundown has this brief note buried inside:

On June 18, 2019, we initiated a confidential arbitration proceeding against Dr. Asa Abeliovich, our former consulting co-founder, related to alleged breaches of his consulting agreement and the improper use of our confidential information that he learned during the course of rendering services to us as our consulting Chief Scientific Officer/Chief Innovation Officer. We are in the early stage of this arbitration proceeding and are unable to assess or provide any assurances regarding its possible outcome.

There’s no explicit word in the filing on what kind of confidential info was involved, but the proceeding got started 2 days ahead of Abeliovich’s IPO.

Abeliovich, formerly a tenured associate professor at Columbia, is a top scientist in the field of neurodegeneration, which is where Alector is targeted. More recently, he’s also helped start up Prevail Therapeutics as the CEO, which raised $125 million in an IPO. And there he’s planning on working on new gene therapies that target genetically defined subpopulations of Parkinson’s disease. Followup programs target Gaucher disease, frontotemporal dementia and synucleinopathies.

But this time Abeliovich is the CEO rather than a founding scientist. And some of their pipeline overlaps with Alector’s.

Abeliovich and Prevail, though, aren’t taking this one lying down.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Chi­na has be­come a CEO-lev­el pri­or­i­ty for multi­na­tion­al phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies: the trend and the im­pli­ca­tions

After a “hot” period of rapid growth between 2009 and 2012, and a relatively “cooler” period of slower growth from 2013 to 2015, China has once again become a top-of-mind priority for the CEOs of most large, multinational pharmaceutical companies.

At the International Pharma Forum, hosted in March in Beijing by the R&D Based Pharmaceutical Association Committee (RDPAC) and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), no fewer than seven CEOs of major multinational pharmaceutical firms participated, including GSK, Eli Lilly, LEO Pharma, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Sanofi and UCB. A few days earlier, the CEOs of several other large multinationals attended the China Development Forum, an annual business forum hosted by the research arm of China’s State Council. It’s hard to imagine any other country, except the US, having such drawing power at CEO level.

As dis­as­ter struck, Ab­b­Vie’s Rick Gon­za­lez swooped in on Al­ler­gan with an of­fer Brent Saun­ders couldn’t say no to

Early March was a no good, awful, terrible time for Allergan CEO Brent Saunders. His big lead drug had imploded in a Phase III disaster and activists were after his hide — or at least his chairman’s title — as the stock price continued a steady droop that had eviscerated share value for investors.

But it was a perfect time for AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez to pick up the phone and ask Saunders if he’d like to consider a “strategic” deal.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

CEO Pascal Soriot via Getty Images

As­traZeneca's jug­ger­naut PARP play­er Lyn­parza scoops up an­oth­er dom­i­nant win in PhI­II as the FDA adds a 'break­through' for Calquence

AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D group under José Baselga keeps churning out hits.

Wednesday morning the pharma giant and their partners at Merck parted the curtains on a successful readout for their Phase III PAOLA-1 study, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival for women with ovarian cancer in a first-line maintenance setting who added their PARP Lynparza to Avastin. This is their second late-stage success in ovarian cancer, which will help stave off rivals like GSK.

Endpoints News

Basic subscription required

Unlock this story instantly and join 57,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

ICER blasts FDA, PTC and Sarep­ta for high prices on DMD drugs Em­flaza, Ex­ondys 51

ICER has some strong words for PTC, Sarepta and the FDA as the US drug price watchdog concludes that as currently priced, their respective new treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy are decidedly not cost-effective.

The final report — which cements the conclusions of a draft issued in May — incorporates the opinion of a panel of 17 experts ICER convened in a public meeting last month. It also based its analysis of Emflaza (deflazacort) and Exondys 51 (eteplirsen) on updated annual costs of $81,400 and over $1 million, respectively, after citing “incorrect” lower numbers in the initial calculations.