Scan­gos left Bio­gen in style, tak­ing a fi­nal $17.7M com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for one last, dis­ap­point­ing year

George Scan­gos

When George Scan­gos left Bio­gen at the end of 2016, he left be­hind a fad­ing megablock­buster fran­chise he had helped cre­ate and passed the reins to a large­ly un­known se­nior ex­ec­u­tive who was charged with re­viv­ing an erod­ing share price.

Scan­gos took a fi­nal year com­pen­sa­tion pack­age worth $17.7 mil­lion, boost­ed by stock awards and in­cen­tives that were built around a $1.5 mil­lion salary, ac­cord­ing to a new­ly filed proxy state­ment. That bot­tom line marked an uptick from his pay pack­age in 2015, which weighed in at $16.9 mil­lion, de­spite the grow­ing doubts that af­flict­ed the com­pa­ny.


Michel Vounatsos, who stepped in­to his new job about a week in­to the new year, grabbed $5.8 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion from his orig­i­nal post as com­mer­cial chief. This year he’ll get a base salary of $1.1 mil­lion and a long-term in­cen­tive pack­age worth $10 mil­lion. And new R&D chief Michael Ehlers earned $5.5 mil­lion at his new job, a step be­low the av­er­age $6 mil­lion to $8 mil­lion range earned by most of the phar­ma re­search chiefs in the top 10 last year.

Michael Ehlers, Bio­gen

It’s up to Vounatsos and Ehlers now to de­liv­er on a pipeline that most an­a­lysts would like to see beefed up with new deals. Bio­gen got start­ed with a stronger-than-ex­pect­ed Q1 per­for­mance for its new­ly ap­proved Spin­raza, which has a $750,000 first-year price tag that has been rais­ing eye­brows. And a few days ago the Bio­gen team in­di­cat­ed that they’d be us­ing their check­books to bag new ex­per­i­men­tal drugs, with a $300 mil­lion up­front for Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb.

Vounatsos is still putting his new regime in place, but he says he’ll be all pre­pared to lay out the strat­e­gy for New Bio­gen at the end of Q2. He not­ed in his call with an­a­lysts to­day:

We plan to up­date you on our progress when we re­port our sec­ond quar­ter earn­ings in Ju­ly, but we do not wait with ob­vi­ous ac­tions to be tak­en to sup­port Bio­gen in terms of R&D, BD and com­mer­cial. Our ac­tions will speak for them­selves.

Scan­gos, mean­while, has turned to the start­up world on the West Coast, main­tain­ing a very low pro­file as new head of Vir, a biotech com­pa­ny aim­ing at new ther­a­pies for in­fec­tious dis­eases.

It’s un­like­ly his first year pay in 2017 will come close to what he earned at Bio­gen, but Vir is a pri­vate com­pa­ny and won’t be spelling out those num­bers any­time soon. Be­sides, at that point it’s all about stock op­tions and po­ten­tial up­side for what comes next.

Martin Shkreli [via Getty]

Pris­on­er #87850-053 does not get to add drug de­vel­op­er to his list of cred­its

Just days after Retrophin shed its last ties to founder Martin Shkreli, the biotech is reporting that the lead drug he co-invented flopped in a pivotal trial. Fosmetpantotenate flunked both the primary and key secondary endpoints in a placebo-controlled trial for a rare disease called pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration, or PKAN.

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We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.

ZHEN SU — Merck Serono’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology
ELLIOTT LEVY — Amgen’s Senior Vice President of Global Development
CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfizer Oncology’s Chief Development Officer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at help@endpointsnews.com with any issues.

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Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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Hal Barron. GSK

GSK's Hal Bar­ron her­alds their sec­ond pos­i­tive piv­otal for cru­cial an­ti-BC­MA ther­a­py, point­ing to a push for quick OKs in a crowd­ed field

Hal Barron has his second positive round of Phase III data in hand for his anti-BCMA antibody drug conjugate belantamab mafodotin (GSK2857916). And GSK’s research chief says the data paves the way for their drive in search of an FDA approval for treating multiple myeloma.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of this drug for GSK, a cornerstone of Barron’s campaign to make a dramatic impact on the oncology market and provide some long-lost excitement for the pharma giant’s pipeline. They’re putting this BCMA program at the front of that charge — looking to lead a host of rivals all aimed at the same target.

We don’t know what the data are yet, but DREAMM-2 falls on the heels of a promising set of data delivered 5 months ago for DREAMM-1. There investigators noted that complete responses among treatment-resistant patients rose to 15% in the extra year’s worth of data to look over, with a median progression-free survival rate of 12 months, up from 7.9 months reported earlier. The median duration of response was 14.3 months.

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UP­DAT­ED: An em­bold­ened As­traZeneca splurges $95M on a pri­or­i­ty re­view vouch­er. Where do they need the FDA to hus­tle up?

AstraZeneca is in a hurry.

We learned this morning that the pharma giant — not known as a big spender, until recently — forked over $95 million to get its hands on a priority review voucher from Sobi, otherwise known as Swedish Orphan Biovitrum.

That marks another step down on price for a PRV, which allows the holder to slash 4 months off of any FDA review time.

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Bob Smith, Pfizer

Pfiz­er is mak­ing a $500M state­ment to­day: Here’s how you be­come a lead play­er in the boom­ing gene ther­a­py sec­tor

Three years ago, Pfizer anted up $150 million in cash to buy Bamboo Therapeutics in Chapel Hill, NC as it cautiously stuck a toe in the small gene therapy pool of research and development.

Company execs followed up a year later with a $100 million expansion of the manufacturing operations they picked up in that deal for the UNC spinout, which came with $495 million in milestones.

And now they’re really going for it.

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Video: Putting the AI in R&D — with Badhri Srini­vasan, Tony Wood, Rosana Kapeller, Hugo Ceule­mans, Saurabh Sa­ha and Shoibal Dat­ta

During BIO this year, I had a chance to moderate a panel among some of the top tech experts in biopharma on their real-world use of artificial intelligence in R&D. There’s been a lot said about the potential of AI, but I wanted to explore more about what some of the larger players are actually doing with this technology today, and how they see it advancing in the future. It was a fascinating exchange, which you can see here. The transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity. — John Carroll

As­traZeneca’s Imfinzi/treme com­bo strikes out — again — in lung can­cer. Is it time for last rites?

AstraZeneca bet big on the future of their PD-L1 Imfinzi combined with the experimental CTLA-4 drug tremelimumab. But once again it’s gone down to defeat in a major Phase III study — while adding damage to the theory involving targeting cancer with a high tumor mutational burden.

Early Wednesday the pharma giant announced that their NEPTUNE study had failed, with the combination unable to beat standard chemo at overall survival in high TMB cases of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. We won’t get hard data until later in the year, but the drumbeat of failures will call into question what — if any — future this combination can have left.

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Why would Am­gen want to buy Alex­ion? An­a­lysts call hot­ly ru­mored takeover un­like­ly, but seize the mo­ment

A rumor that Amgen is closing in on buyout deal for Alexion has sparked a guessing game on just what kind of M&A strategy Amgen is pursuing and how much Alexion is worth.

Mizuho analyst Salim Syed first lent credence to the report out of the Spanish news outlet Intereconomía, which said Amgen is bidding as much as $200 per share. While the source may be questionable, “the concept of this happening doesn’t sound too crazy to me,” he wrote.