Pascal Soriot, Len Schleifer, Paul Perreault

So­ri­ot, Schleifer, Per­reault named top glob­al CEOs — but gone are phar­ma's gold­en years

CEOs of gi­ant com­pa­nies can be re­mem­bered for a pletho­ra of things: the deals they strike, the peo­ple they hire and fire, the words they ut­ter in in­ter­views, and so on. But for the Street, it’s the fi­nan­cial per­for­mance that de­fines any tenure. The Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view has just dropped the 2019 edi­tion of its cal­cu­la­tions on that while blend­ing in a dash of the en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and gov­er­nance fac­tors that have in­creas­ing­ly con­cerned in­vestors.

Pas­cal So­ri­ot has earned a place on the list (#77) as he be­gins his eighth year as As­traZeneca CEO, join­ing Re­gen­eron’s Len Schleifer, whose rank­ing fell from 53 last year to 93. Ab­b­Vie chief Richard Gon­za­lez, who shared a spot with Schleifer last year, was among the 35 mem­bers of the class of 2018 who didn’t make it this year.

The on­ly oth­er bio­phar­ma rep­re­sen­ta­tive is Paul Per­reault, CEO of the oft-over­looked but hefty Aus­tralian play­er CSL. But oth­er health care lead­ers, in­clud­ing medtech con­glom­er­ate Boston Sci­en­tif­ic’s Michael Ma­honey and in­stru­ments man­u­fac­tur­er Ther­mo Fish­er chief Marc Casper made an ap­pear­ance, as did Bernard Char­lés of Das­sault Sys­témes, the French soft­ware mak­er that re­cent­ly got in­to the clin­i­cal tri­al busi­ness via a $5.8 bil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Me­di­da­ta.

Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view, which has pub­lished eight ver­sions of the rank­ings in the past years, sorts the CEOs by over­all share­hold­er re­turn and in­crease in mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion over their en­tire tenure — met­rics that ac­count for 70% of the fi­nal score. But they al­so give some weight to ESG, which mea­sures the sus­tain­abil­i­ty and eth­i­cal im­pact of a com­pa­ny, “to re­flect the fact that a rapid­ly grow­ing num­ber of funds and in­di­vid­u­als now fo­cus on far more than bot­tom-line met­rics when they make in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.”

Among a group who have been in the job for 15 years on av­er­age, So­ri­ot is al­so in the mi­nor­i­ty as a non-in­sid­er. Since jump­ing to As­traZeneca, the for­mer Roche ex­ec has ex­e­cut­ed a turn­around cen­tered on three big can­cer fran­chis­es — Lyn­parza, Tagris­so and Imfinzi — which al­so fea­tured an or­ga­ni­za­tion­al over­haul and ag­gres­sive di­vesti­tures.

So­ri­ot’s as­cen­sion to the top 100 CEOs on the S&P Glob­al 1200 fol­lows a de­c­la­ra­tion of vic­to­ry late last year when he pro­claimed “the start of a pe­ri­od of sus­tained growth for years to come.”

That’s clear­ly still an on­go­ing process, as his fi­nan­cial rank on HBR’s list is just 202. But strong num­bers on the ESG side put him above Schleifer, who ranked 19 fi­nan­cial­ly but had much poor­er ESG grades.

Schleifer, who’s of­ten laud­ed for build­ing the com­pa­ny from scratch to­geth­er with R&D chief George Yan­copou­los (and com­pen­sate them­selves am­ply for that), has been on the list for the past three years. In ad­di­tion to a rep­u­ta­tion for world-class an­ti­bod­ies, Schleifer is al­so known for be­ing vo­cal on broad­er cor­po­rate is­sues such as drug price hikes and Amer­i­can pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture.

In com­par­i­son, Per­reault keeps a much low­er pro­file, even though he leads a com­pa­ny that has a sol­id #16 stand­ing among the phar­ma com­pa­nies with the high­est mar­ket caps around the world.

What’s al­so clear from this year’s com­pi­la­tion is that phar­ma, suf­fer­ing from a bro­ken pub­lic im­age and dwin­dling re­turns on in­vest­ment, is lin­ger­ing in a dark val­ley. It was on­ly five years ago that John Mar­tin of Gilead, David Py­ott of Al­ler­gan, Lars Sørensen of No­vo Nordisk, and Michael Pear­son of Valeant oc­cu­pied the top 10 po­si­tions on the rank­ing. All four have since stepped down and, fol­low­ing a spec­tac­u­lar and scan­dalous fall from grace in­volv­ing fraud and price goug­ing, Valeant has re­brand­ed as Bausch and Lomb.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

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The lat­est Cin­derel­la sto­ry in on­col­o­gy ends with a sud­den rout as up­dat­ed da­ta dis­play spooks in­vestors

NextCure’s turn as the Cinderella of cancer-focused biotechs was short-lived.
Just a few days after its shares $NXTC zoomed up more than 250% on some very early stage results in a SITC abstract, a more complete analysis over the weekend spiked the hype and left investors in high dudgeon as the stock price collapsed back towards earth Monday.
The focus at NextCure is centered on NC318, an antibody that is intended to shut down the immunosuppressive Siglec-15 — or S-15 — target. After adding a small group of patients to the readout, investigators circled 2 clinical responses, a complete and partial response, along with 4 stable disease cases in non-small cell lung cancer.

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Te­va spin­out rais­es $85M in IPO; No­var­tis beefs up gener­ics unit with $440M deal

→ After Teva spinout 89bio recently announced that its IPO was being held up, the company is back in the game offering 5,304,687 shares at a price of $16 per share. The company has raised $84.9 million IPO in gross proceeds and will be listed under the ticker symbol $ETNB. BofA Securities, SVB Leerink and RBC Capital Markets are the joint book-running managers for the offering. Oppenheimer & Co is the co-manager for the offering.
→ Looking to amp up its presence in Japan’s hospitals, Novartis has struck a deal to buy out Aspen’s portfolio of generics in the world’s third largest healthcare market. The pharma giant is paying $440 million for Aspen’s Japanese subsidiary.
→ Novartis said tropifexor, a non-bile acid FXR agonist, has scored on several key biomarkers of NASH in a Phase IIb trial, including reductions in hepatic fat, alanine aminotransferase and body weight compared to a placebo at 12 weeks.

Break­through sta­tus and promise of a speedy re­view ar­rives for Op­di­vo/Yer­voy com­bi­na­tion as Bris­tol-My­ers bites at Bay­er

Its frontline and single-agent aspirations have been set back, but Bristol-Myers Squibb just took a big step forward in its efforts to apply its checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo to liver cancer. The FDA has granted breakthrough status and priority review to a combination, second-line treatment.

The designation is for Opdivo (nivolumab) in combination with Yervoy (ipilimumab),  for treating advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer. The PD-L1 drug was already approved as a single-agent, second-line treatment for HCC. A PDUFA date was set for March 10, 2020 — just 4 months from now.

Third time un­lucky: Lipocine's lat­est quest to mar­ket their oral testos­terone drug snubbed again by FDA

Lipocine’s latest attempt at securing approval for its oral testosterone drug has fizzled yet again.

The Utah-based drug developer on Monday said the FDA has spurned its marketing application, indicating that some efficacy data on the drug, Tlando, was not up to scratch to treat male hypogonadism, a condition characterized by low production of the hormone testosterone, which is responsible for maintaining muscle bulk, bone growth, and sexual function.

UP­DAT­ED: De­cry­ing 'ar­bi­trary and capri­cious' ac­tion, Re­genxBio sues FDA over clin­i­cal holds on gene ther­a­py

When RegenxBio disclosed that the FDA had placed a partial clinical hold on one of its lead gene therapies, execs outlined several customary next steps: continuing assessment and monitoring, delaying a related IND filing, and working with the FDA to address the matter.

As it turned out, they were planning something much less mundane. Two days after announcing the hold in its Q3 update, RegenxBio filed a lawsuit seeking to set it aside, the FDA Law Blog noted.

Roche's SMA chal­lenge to Bio­gen's Spin­raza fran­chise looms larg­er with piv­otal win

Roche has just landed a crucial advance in scoring a come-from-behind win on the spinal muscular atrophy field, giving Novartis and Biogen a run for their money.

The update was brief, but Roche said risdiplam hit the primary endpoint in the placebo-controlled pivotal SUNFISH trial, meeting the threshold for change from baseline in the Motor Function Measure 32 (MFM-32) scale after one year of treatment. The results, which is the second, confirmatory portion of a two-part study, involved 180 patients with type 2 or 3 spinal muscular atrophy between 2 and 25 years old.

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Roche steers Gazy­va in­to a new PhI­II pro­gram af­ter com­bo shows promise in lu­pus nephri­tis study

Roche is working on putting together a late-stage study for its monoclonal antibody Gazyva in patients with severe kidney disease associated with lupus after a combination approach helped patients in a mid-stage study.

The 125-patient NOBILITY trial evaluated Gazyva, combined with standard-of-care treatment mycophenolate mofetil or mycophenolic acid and corticosteroids, versus standard treatment alone. The combo met the main goal of inducing a statistically superior complete renal response (CRR) of 40% at week 76, versus 18% in patients given standard treatment, Roche said.