Tariq Kas­sum jumps from Ob­sid­i­an to Cel­sius helm; Quell Ther­a­peu­tics taps Iain McGill as new CEO

Tariq Kas­sum Linkedin

→ Cam­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts-based Cel­sius Ther­a­peu­tics — which was launched in 2018 and backed by Third Rock Ven­tures and GV — has tapped Tariq Kas­sum to the helm. Kas­sum suc­ceed­ed Alex­is Borisy, who has been in­ter­im CEO and who stay as chair­man of the board of di­rec­tors.

Borisy re­cent­ly made an un­ex­pect­ed ex­it from Third Rock, be­fore their record $770 mil­lion fund for its next wave of in­vest­ments in the life sci­ence field.

Kas­sum was the COO at Ob­sid­i­an Ther­a­peu­tics, fol­low­ing stints at Mil­len­ni­um Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Take­da.

Alex Sapir Re­Vi­ral

Alex Sapir has suc­ceed­ed Ed­dy Lit­tler as CEO of Re­Vi­ral — a stick­ler in the tough res­pi­ra­to­ry syn­cy­tial virus (RSV) field — and been elect­ed to the com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors. Lit­tler will as­sume the po­si­tion of COO in­stead. Pri­or to join­ing Re­Vi­ral, Sapir was CEO and pres­i­dent at Do­va Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, help­ing raise $160 mil­lion in an IPO and fol­low-on of­fer­ings. In ad­di­tion, Sapir has had stints at Unit­ed Ther­a­peu­tics and GSK.

Iain McGill Linkedin

Weeks af­ter launch­ing out of Syn­cona’s crib, Quell Ther­a­peu­tics — which is spe­cial­iz­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of en­gi­neered Treg cell ther­a­pies — wel­comes Iain McGill as its CEO. Pri­or to join­ing Quell, McGill served as se­nior vice pres­i­dent in Eu­rope and the rest of the world for Jazz Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. Be­fore that, McGill had a stint at EU­SA Phar­ma and he al­so worked in var­i­ous po­si­tions in the field of trans­plan­ta­tion and im­munol­o­gy at Wyeth, No­var­tis and Roche Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

James Ward-Lil­ley, CEO of res­pi­ra­to­ry drug de­vel­op­er Vec­tura Group, is step­ping down from both his po­si­tion and the board. Cur­rent CFO Paul Fry will step in as in­ter­im CEO, in ad­di­tion to his cur­rent re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. A search for a new suc­ces­sor will be­gin im­me­di­ate­ly.  

Jes­si­ca Mar­tins­son Sprint Bio­science

Sprint Bio­science CEO An­ders Åberg is step­ping down from his po­si­tion af­ter 10 years in the role, and cur­rent op­er­a­tional man­ag­er and co-founder Jes­si­ca Mar­tins­son will re­place him as the act­ing CEO. Åberg will re­tain his share­hold­ing and re­main as a se­nior ad­vi­sor to the com­pa­ny.

Louis Kay­i­talire Linkedin

→  Cam­bridge, Eng­land-based F-star has ap­point­ed Big Phar­ma vet Louis Kay­i­talire as its CMO. Kay­i­talire will over­see the de­vel­op­ment of F-star’s lead prod­uct can­di­date FS118 — a LAG-3/PD-L1-tar­get­ing tetrava­lent bis­pe­cif­ic an­ti­body cur­rent­ly in a Phase I clin­i­cal tri­al. He will al­so lead the clin­i­cal strat­e­gy and op­er­a­tions for F-star’s pipeline of bis­pecifics, in­clud­ing FS120 and FS222, which are on track for IND sub­mis­sions this year. Kay­i­talire has over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in on­col­o­gy and im­muno-on­col­o­gy ac­cu­mu­lat­ed over the years at Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb, Cel­gene and Eli Lil­ly.

Thomas Schi­neck­er Roche

→ Swiss gi­ant Roche has un­veiled the new head of its $13 bil­lion di­ag­nos­tics unit — one day af­ter the FDA sanc­tioned the ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval of the com­pa­ny’s lat­est an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate. Thomas Schi­neck­er — who has been with the com­pa­ny since 2003 — is be­ing pro­mot­ed to CEO of Roche Di­ag­nos­tics, and will be­gin his tenure from Au­gust 1, the com­pa­ny said. Schi­neck­er will re­place Roland Diggel­mann, who left his post last Au­gust.

In ad­di­tion, Roche board mem­ber Pe­ter Vos­er — who has been with the com­pa­ny since 2011 — has elect­ed to step down to fo­cus on his role as in­ter­im CEO of ABB. Fur­ther­more, Roche’s head of group com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Stephan Feld­haus, is al­so leav­ing and will be re­placed by Bar­bara Schaedler, who is cur­rent­ly head of pub­lic af­fairs at pri­vate en­er­gy com­pa­ny E.ON SE.

Unum Ther­a­peu­tics has en­list­ed sev­er­al C-suite mem­bers on its on­go­ing quest for a new kind of T cell ther­a­py. Matthew Os­borne, a for­mer VP of cor­po­rate af­fairs, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­vestors re­la­tions at Voy­ager Ther­a­peu­tics, is the new CFO. Take­da vet Jes­si­ca Sachs has been pro­mot­ed to CMO, re­plac­ing Michael Vas­con­celles. In ad­di­tion, Mert Ak­tar has been ap­point­ed to the new­ly cre­at­ed role of head of busi­ness and cor­po­rate de­vel­op­ment af­ter 8 years at Shire.

Michael Vas­con­celles has been re­cruit­ed by Flat­iron Health to serve as its CMO. Vas­con­celles just left the same po­si­tion at Unum Ther­a­peu­tics. Vas­con­celles’ pre­vi­ous stints in­clude serv­ing at Take­da/Mil­len­ni­um, Gen­zyme and Sanofi On­col­o­gy. Cur­rent­ly, he is as a clin­i­cal in­struc­tor in med­i­cine at Har­vard Med­ical School and is a prac­tic­ing on­col­o­gist and as­so­ciate physi­cian at the Dana-Far­ber Can­cer In­sti­tute and Brigham & Women’s Hos­pi­tal in Boston.

→ Af­ter a re­cent stint as vice pres­i­dent of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs and qual­i­ty as­sur­ance at Charleston Lab­o­ra­to­ries, Mark Man­nebach is join­ing Eiger Bio­Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals as its vice pres­i­dent of glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Mark Man­nebach Linkedin

“Eiger’s pipeline is now late-stage with planned glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing an NDA and MAA for Prog­e­ria and Progeroid Laminopathies, en­roll­ment of a glob­al Phase III study for Lon­a­farnib in HDV, and End of Phase 2 meet­ings for Pegin­ter­fer­on Lamb­da in HDV and Avex­i­tide in Post-Bariatric Hy­po­glycemia,” said David Cory, pres­i­dent and CEO of Eiger. “Mark’s glob­al reg­u­la­to­ry ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence will strength­en our lead­er­ship team and ex­e­cu­tion.”

Some of Man­nebach’s pre­vi­ous stints in­clude roles at Sanofi, Pfiz­er, Co­vi­di­en and Mallinck­rodt Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

Zy­la Life Sci­ences re­cruit­ed Jef­frey Wilkins as its CMO and se­nior vice pres­i­dent. Wilkins joins the com­pa­ny from the same po­si­tion at Lyc­era. Pri­or to his time at Lyc­era, Wilkins had stints at Nex­ep­tion Ther­a­peu­tics, Cep­taris Ther­a­peu­tics, Acte­lion and GSK.

Deepi­ka Jalota Linkedin

PMV Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals — a biotech fo­cused on p53-tar­get­ed small mol­e­cule drugs for can­cer — an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Deepi­ka Jalota as its se­nior vice pres­i­dent and head of reg­u­la­to­ry af­fairs.

Pri­or to join­ing the com­pa­ny, Jalota served as vice pres­i­dent glob­al-reg­u­la­to­ry strat­e­gy head, on­col­o­gy at Bay­er Health­care. Be­fore that, Jalota had stints at Sanofi-Aven­tis, For­est Lab­o­ra­to­ries and Proc­tor and Gam­ble.

Chelsea Place John­son Linkedin

Chelsea Place John­son has joined the ear­ly-stage VC At­las Ven­ture as its se­nior as­so­ciate, fo­cus­ing on new com­pa­ny for­ma­tion across ar­eas of un­met med­ical need. John­son, who most re­cent­ly man­aged busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for Tan­go Ther­a­peu­tics, had pre­vi­ous­ly worked at Third Rock Ven­tures.

→ As Ac­celeron Phar­ma ap­proach­es the fin­ish line with lus­pa­ter­cept, co-founder Tom Ma­ni­atis is re­tir­ing from the board while con­tin­u­ing to ad­vise the com­pa­ny’s de­vel­op­ment of TGF-be­ta su­per­fam­i­ly ther­a­peu­tics. Ma­ni­atis co-found­ed the com­pa­ny in 2003 and has since tak­en up a CEO role at New York Genome Cen­ter, which he al­so helped start.

Do­main Ther­a­peu­tics — a bio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny spe­cial­ized in the dis­cov­ery and de­vel­op­ment of new drug can­di­dates tar­get­ing trans­mem­brane re­cep­tors, in par­tic­u­lar, G pro­tein-cou­pled re­cep­tors (GPCRs) — an­nounced the ap­point­ment of Sylvie Rycke­busch to its board of di­rec­tors.

Rycke­busch was most re­cent­ly the CBO the non­prof­it Es­peR­are Foun­da­tion. In ad­di­tion, her ex­pe­ri­ence spans to roles at Mer­ck Serono and as the founder of Oc­tave Biotech Con­sult­ing.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.