Tapped as Kymab CEO, Si­mon Sturge jumps back in­to biotech pond as Dave Chiswell steps aside

Dave Chiswell is wind­ing down a leg­endary ca­reer — mark­ing a run as Cam­bridge An­ti­body Tech­nol­o­gy’s co-founder and, lat­er, CEO — by mov­ing to the back­seat at Kymab. And he’s found a fel­low vet­er­an in the UK biotech scene to hand over the ba­ton.

For Si­mon Sturge, the CEO job marks a re­turn to the en­tre­pre­neur­ial side of things af­ter spend­ing a com­bined eight years in BD roles at Mer­ck KGaA and Boehringer In­gel­heim: An ear­ly CEO of Cell­tech Bi­o­log­ics (ac­quired by Lon­za), he al­so helped cre­ate the com­pa­ny now known as Ver­nalis.

Dave Chiswell

In par­tic­u­lar, with two clin­i­cal pro­grams slat­ed for big ad­vances and read­outs in the com­ing year, Kymab is be­gin­ning to think about when and who to part­ner with.

The dis­cov­ery en­gine “that Kymab has built is in­cred­i­bly pro­duc­tive,” he says. “So I think we have mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties of prod­ucts we can take in­to the clin­ic and it’s re­al­ly the phys­i­cal re­sources that we have with­in the or­ga­ni­za­tion to re­al­is­ti­cal­ly progress.”

Lead­ing Kymab’s pipeline right now are KY1005 and KY1044, which tar­get the OX40 lig­and and ICOS re­spec­tive­ly — both pop­u­lar tar­gets that Kymab has a “unique ap­proach” on. The for­mer is in Phase IIa for atopic der­mati­tis with plans to test it in graft-ver­sus-host dis­ease in 2020; the lat­ter is be­ing stud­ied, both as a sin­gle agent and in com­bi­na­tion with Roche’s Tecen­triq, as an on­col­o­gy drug. While that might fall short of Chiswell’s ear­li­er vi­sion of 5 in­de­pen­dent prod­ucts in the clin­ic by 2019, Sturge stress­es that it still makes 4 dif­fer­ent clin­i­cal pro­grams.

Sturge added that the com­pa­ny has raised a “sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tion­al fund­ing” from ex­ist­ing in­vestors to fol­low up on a $100 mil­lion round in 2016, free­ing it from any im­me­di­ate fi­nan­cial pres­sure.

Mean­while, Chiswell will re­main sci­en­tif­ic ad­vis­er to Sturge and the 175-mem­ber team.

“I’ve known Dave for a long long time, many many years, and I cer­tain­ly re­al­ly val­ue his ex­pe­ri­ence in build­ing and de­vel­op­ing com­pa­nies,” Sturge said. “And so I ex­pect that he will be ad­vis­ing us for quite some time in the fu­ture.”


Im­age: Si­mon Sturge. KYMAB

Sanofi brings in 4 new ex­ec­u­tives in con­tin­ued shake-up, as vac­cines and con­sumer health chief head out the door

In the middle of Sanofi’s multi-pronged race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, David Loew, the head of their sprawling vaccines unit, is leaving – part of the final flurry of moves in the French giant’ months-long corporate shuffle that will give them new-look leadership under new CEO Paul Hudson.

The company also said today that Alan Main, the head of their consumer healthcare unit, is out, and they named 4 executives to fill new or newly vacated positions, 3 of whom come from both outside both Sanofi and from Pharma.

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

Dan O'Day, Gilead CEO (Andrew Harnik, AP Images)

Gilead leas­es part­ner rights to TIG­IT, PD-1 in a $2B deal with Ar­cus. Now comes the hard part

Gilead CEO Dan O’Day has brokered his way to a PD-1 and lined up a front row seat in the TIGIT arena, inking a deal worth close to $2 billion to align the big biotech closely with Terry Rosen’s Arcus. And $375 million of that comes upfront, with cash for the buy-in plus equity, along with $400 million for R&D and $1.22 billion in reserve to cover opt-in payments and milestones..

Hotly rumored for weeks, the 2 players have formalized a 10-year alliance that starts with rights to the PD-1, zimberelimab. O’Day also has first dibs on TIGIT and 2 other leading programs, agreeing to an opt-in fee ranging from $200 million to $275 million on each. There’s $500 million in potential TIGIT milestones on US regulatory events — likely capped by an approval — if Gilead partners on it and the stars align on the data. And there’s another $150 million opt-in payments for the rest of the Arcus pipeline.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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Roger Perlmutter, Merck R&D chief (YouTube)

Backed by BAR­DA, Mer­ck jumps in­to Covid-19: buy­ing out a vac­cine, part­ner­ing on an­oth­er and adding an­tivi­ral to the mix

Merck execs are making a triple play in a sudden leap into the R&D campaign against Covid-19. And they have more BARDA cash backing them up on the move.

Tuesday morning the pharma giant simultaneously announced plans to buy an Austrian biotech that has been working on a preclinical vaccine candidate, added a collaboration on another vaccine with the nonprofit IAVI and inked a deal with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics on an early-stage antiviral.

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Stymied by the pan­dem­ic, Im­munomedic­s' new CEO bows out, tak­ing a mil­lion bucks plus perks as he heads out the vir­tu­al ex­it

Just a little more than a month since taking over as the latest CEO to helm Immunomedics, $IMMU Harout Semerjian is exiting the company after being confronted by “logistical” obstacles thrown up by the pandemic that made it impossible for him to move from London to carry out the job. And he’s getting a little over a million dollars in cash plus perks to grease the skids on the way out.

Word of the changeup arrived right after the market closed Wednesday.

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Ex-biotech chief pleads guilty in col­lege ad­mis­sions scan­dal, faces a 10-month prison stretch in plea deal

The ex-CEO of Harmony Biosciences — as well as former board member for Biohaven — has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of mail fraud after getting caught up in the college admissions scandal.

Charged with paying Georgetown University’s former tennis coach more than $50,000 to get his daughter admitted to the university as a new recruit for the team, Bob Repella took the plea deal, which comes with a recommended sentence of 10 months in prison, with a year of supervised release and a $40,000 fine.