Checkmate plucks BMS exec Bash to be new CEO

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals has hired Bristol Myers Squibb SVP Alan Bash to run its chessboard as president and CEO, completing a more than three-month search for someone to fill the top post.

Bash clocked in more than 20 years at BMS, most recently as their senior VP, commercial model innovation. Prior to that, he oversaw commercial work for immunology and fibrosis and helped launch the company’s PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor, Opdivo. 

That drug is now the third-highest seller for BMS, raking in nearly $2 billion in sales worldwide last quarter, an 11% increase. It’s also being tested in conjunction with Checkmate’s single queen piece, vidutolimod, to treat melanoma.

The pairing has already proceeded to a phase 2 trial in patients to be administered prior to primary treatment. The company is also recruiting patients to test the pair in first-line metastatic and anti-PD-1 refractory melanoma.

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Checkmate's leadership is hoping Bash can invigorate a company that has fallen off since its IPO in 2020, which closed at $75 million with a $15 share price. At the time of publishing, the company is trading at $2.48 per share.

Vidutolimod is a virus-like particle that produces t-cells by mimicking a virus’ emergence in the body, stimulating a diverse immune response. The company hopes this technology can succeed in patients who don’t have enough t-cells for checkpoint inhibitors to work on their own. 

“Under Alan’s leadership, Checkmate will continue developing novel treatments for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers,” said Chairman Mike Powell in a statement.

Bash starts on March 1 and is also joining the company’s board of directors, where interim CEO Alan Fuhrman will return.