Chutes & Ladders—AstraZeneca chief Soriot may abscond to Teva

Parachute landscape
AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot was said to be jumping ship to head Teva.

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.

AstraZeneca CEO Soriot reportedly moving to helm Teva

AstraZeneca Logo
Pascal Soriot

CEO Pascal Soriot was said to be leaving.

Pascal Soriot was furious with Luke Miels’ defection to GlaxoSmithKline, but now, rumor has it that the AZ CEO is himself leaving to take up Teva’s CEO job left by Erez Vigodman. Though not confirmed yet, the news has slashed $4 billion off AZ’s market cap, as it cast further doubt on the company’s upcoming readouts from the Mystic trial, which tests AZ’s PD-L1 drug Imfinzi in combination with CLTA4 med tremelimumab. Teva also has its own troubles to worry about, including its not-so-well-received purchase of Allergan’s generics unit, potential patent loss of its leading multiple sclerosis med Copaxone, and a round of layoffs that reportedly could see 5,000 workers out the door. Soriot’s departure might also put a Pfizer-AstraZeneca M&A talk back on the table, since it was he who fought so hard on Pfizer’s previous takeover attempt. FiercePharma

GSK poaches Pfizer’s medicinal sciences head Tony Wood

GlaxoSmithKline logo
Tony Wood

Tony Wood will become SVP of platform technology and science.

Months after poaching Miels from AstraZeneca—a whole nasty melodrama in itself—GSK has won over another Big Pharma top exec. Tony Wood, Pfizer’s SVP of medicinal sciences is joining GSK pharma R&D as SVP of platform technology and science, replacing John Baldoni, who’s going to head a new team focused on in silico technology like artificial intelligence and deep learning. The new appointment, creation of this new team and the work of Baldoni so far represents GSK’s vision to rise above the current early-stage drug discovery standard, which includes compound libraries and high-throughput screening, toward a more advanced approach based on data, computer modeling and simulation. FierceBiotech

Advaxis CEO O’Connor abruptly resigns

Daniel O'Connor

​​​​Advaxis Immunotherapies
Daniel O’Connor stepped down.

Daniel O’Connor, Advaxis’ CEO since 2013, has resigned from the company and its board of directors, replaced on an interim basis by CBO Tony Lombardo, who just joined the company from oral imaging contrast agents specialist E-Z-M in April.  The company has its candidate ADXS-PSA in clinical development both as a monotherapy and in combination with Merck’s Keytruda in prostate cancer. Its axalimogene filolisbac is being tested alongside AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi in HPV-associated metastatic cervical cancer and head and neck cancer. Besides helping Advaxis raise $250 million, O’Connor also struck a deal with Amgen to develop and commercialize its personalized cancer treatment, neoantigen ADXS-NEO. The exact reason of his sudden departure is yet unknown. FierceBiotech

> Former GSK chief Andrew Witty found a director's role at G1 Therapeutics' board. Release

> After tapping Catherine Steele as SVP of corporate affairs, Biogen brought on Amy Chevalier Efantis, formerly with Boehringer Ingelheim and PhRMA, as its VP of government affairs. Release

> Jacqualyn Fouse, PhD., after leaving her post as Celgene's president and COO, has become Dermavant Sciences' executive chair. Release

> Astellas made two senior-level changes in its U.S. commercial organization: David Musselman was promoted to primary care and specialty's eastern area sales VP, and Lynn Gerber was named as the sales VP responsible for the west. Release

> OrbiMed-backed SmartZyme BioPharma, which develops optimized protein, enzyme and mRNA therapeutics, named Mark Leavitt, Ph.D., who once worked for Pfizer and Alexion, as VP of R&D and chief technology officer, and appointed Christopher R. Shepard, Ph.D., once with Genentech, to SVP of business and portfolio development. Release

> Former Eli Lilly CSO for immuno-oncology clinical development James Wooldridge, M.D., joined Aeglea BioTherapeutics as CMO. Release

> Close on the back of a $28.4 million seed financing, Provention Bio, which focuses on immune-mediated diseases, hired Eleanor “Leni” Ramos, M.D., to become its CMO and COO. Release

> After about a one-year CEO stint at Gyroscope Therapeutics, Anne Prener was hired by Freeline Therapeutics as CEO. Release 

> Nabriva Therapeutics, with a focus on the pleuromutilin class of antibiotics, named Francesco Maria Lavino as CCO. Release