Chutes & Ladders: A new global pharmaceuticals head for GSK

Many people jumping out of a plane with green parachutes
GSK pharma chief Hussain joins a long list of departing execs, with AstraZeneca's Miels to step in.

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Angus Liu (email), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Recent GSK exec changes see global pharma president Hussain out and AZ’s Miels in

Abbas Hussain

Abbas Hussain will leave as president of global pharma.

It was only about a month ago when we last heard about an exec change at GlaxoSmithKline. Last time, Deborah Waterhouse was announced to be replacing Dominique Limet as head of ViiV, the British pharma’s HIV unit. This time, it is Abbas Hussain, president of global pharma, who’s joining a list of other execs like CEO Andrew Witty to exit the company. GSK thanked Hussain for helping to build the world’s leading emerging markets pharma business by volume, but at the same time it has high hopes for his successor, Luke Miels, EVP of AstraZeneca’s European business. During his time at AZ, Miels launched cancer-fighter Tagrisso in the U.S., and improved growth of the CV and metabolic portfolios, notably Brilinta. Now, GSK is counting on his commercial acumen to keep the stamina for its own newly launched. FiercePharma

Merrimack taps Sanofi Genzyme SVP as CEO

Richard Peters

Dr. Richard Peters has been named CEO.

Merrimack went through what could be an entire landscape change around former CEO Robert Mulroy’s resignation last October. Mulroy hit the road after higher-than-expected loss caused by rising R&D costs was reported, and chairman Gary Crocker took over temporarily, during which time the company struck a deal with Ipsen to offload FDA-approved cancer drug Onivyde, along with a number of its employees. The job for newly appointed CEO, Dr. Richard Peters, an expert in the field of oncology, is to utilize the $575 million cash from the Ipsen deal and the remaining workforce to get three experimental candidates to clinical proof of concept. He joined Sanofi Genzyme as a medical affairs VP, and later became SVP and head of global rare diseases. FierceBiotech

Ex-GSK rare disease head joins Italian biotech Genenta

Carlo Russo

Carlo Russo becomes CMO.

Carlo Russo, during his time as head of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline’s rare disease unit, helped the British company get its first gene therapy Strimvelis for rare disease “bubble boy syndrome” approved in Europe last year. He was just named as CMO at Italy-based Genenta Science, a biotech focused on hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy in cancer. He was one of a few minds behind Strimvelis that have left GSK—and probably not the last one. Nicolas Koebel, GSK’s former global commercial head of the Rare Diseases unit, and Andrea Spezzi, previously VP and medicine development leader at the unit, have both left to join Orchard Therapeutics. FierceBiotech

> After a failed cystic fibrosis trial, Nivalis is laying off 80% of its staff including its CEO Jon Congleton and CMO David Rodman by March. FierceBiotech

> FCB Health appointed Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness' Joe Soto and Steven Hebert as the new co-managing directors for its New Jersey office FCBCure. FiercePharmaMarketing

> CRO SynteractHCR appointed four new senior-level managers to its international leadership team. Miguel Fuentes joined as executive director of service delivery, Patrick F. Loebs as senior regulatory affairs manager, Katharina Grote as finance director, and Dr. Ewelina Mazur-Janik as medical monitor. Release

> SPR Therapeutics, a neurostimulation company with FDA-approved Sprint peripheral nerve stimulation system, named Dave Youngberg as VP of sales. Release

Summit Therapeutics, a company focused on therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and C. difficile infection, appointed David Roblin as COO and president of R&D. Release

> Hearing repairing expert Decibel Therapeutics added the post of chief data sciences officer, and John Keilty landed the job. Release

> Two management appointments were announced at Axial Biotherapeutics: Brian Malone will serve as SVP of finance and A. Stewart Campbell was named VP of early stage development. Release

> Oncolytics Biotech, which is focused on the development of oncolytic viruses as potential cancer therapeutics, turned co-founder Matt Coffey's role as interim president and CEO into a permanent one. Release