Chutes & Ladders—Doubling down on R&D, Daiichi makes changes to U.S. research unit


Chutes and Ladders
Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Doubling down on R&D, Daiichi makes changes to U.S. research unit

Daiichi Sankyo - Top 15 Pharma R&D Budgets

Daiichi Sankyo
Junichi Koga, Ph.D., will become the global head of R&D starting April 1.

Koga, a 10-year Daiichi veteran, will take over for Glenn Gormley, M.D., Ph.D., who also serves as senior executive officer of the Daiichi Sankyo Company and president and CEO of Daiichi’s U.S. division. Gormley will step down from all those positions by the end of March, but stay on as chair of Daiichi and as a special R&D advisor to global CEO Joji NakayamaKen Keller, who has overseen commercial operations for five years, has been named as the new president and CEO of its U.S. division. Koga will also co-chair the Daiichi Sankyo Global Executive Meeting of Research and Development, its top R&D decisionmaking body, alongside oncology R&D head Antoine Yver, M.D. FierceBiotech

Immunomedics could be facing longer lead drug delay as CEO quits


CEO Michael Pehl has resigned.

Just over a year after taking the job, Pehl has resigned for personal reasons, according to the company, including returning to Europe with his family. His exit comes just a few weeks after the biotech’s lead breast cancer antibody-drug conjugate, IMMU-132, was rejected by the FDA over manufacturing issues. Jefferies analysts, however, still believe that the treatment is approvable in third-line, triple-negative disease, with a U.S. launch date predicted to be pushed back a year to 2021. FierceBiotech

Parexel nabs another key FDA staffer as it bolsters oncology executives

Parexel Logo

The FDA's Amy McKee, M.D., joined to help lead the company’s oncology initiative.

McKee was previously deputy director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence. She follows four former colleagues who joined the CRO earlier this month. McKee spent 11 years at the FDA focusing on its cancer divisions and was responsible for assessing numerous cancer drug NMEs, with a focus on targeted therapy drug development and clinical trial endpoints. Parexel also promoted Matthew Cooney, M.D., to the senior medical director and therapeutic area lead for oncology within its global medical services team. FierceCRO

> Executives from AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Sanofi were grilled this week on Capitol Hill on international pricing, rebates, stock buybacks and CEO bonuses, with senators calling for concrete action on the high cost of drugs. FiercePharma

> Celgene CEO Mark Alles could receive a $27.9 million payout if he departs after the closure of the company's merger with BMS, thanks to a new change-in-control severance system put in place in December. Three other top Celgene executives would also receive 2.5 times their salaries and bonuses if they stay on until the deal is finished. FiercePharma

> After launching its first in-house R&D program last month, cancer drug-testing startup Notable Labs brought on Incyte’s Hiroomi Tada to be chief medical officer and Aquinox’s Lloyd Mackenzie to be chief development officer to take charge of its clinical operations and drug development work. FierceBiotech

> Atreca's Susan Berland is retiring as its executive VP and chief financial officer, and the biotech is bringing on Herb Cross as her successor. Cross formerly served as CFO for ARMO BioSciences through its IPO and sale to Eli Lilly last year, and also served as CFO at Balance Therapeutics, KaloBios Pharmaceuticals and Affymax. Release

> After four years, a jury has awarded nearly $1.5 million to a former Novartis executive, Min Amy Guo, who sued the drugmaker claiming she was fired for concerns that an Afinitor clinical study could be a form of kickback. Novartis currently faces separate kickback allegations from officials in the U.S. and Greece. FiercePharma

> Bayer Healthcare will cut 195 jobs and close a customer logistics service center in Indiana as part of its global restructuring aimed to shed about 12,000 employees. FiercePharmaManufacturing

> Compugen is streamlining its R&D operations to ensure it can afford the phase 1 study of its lead antibody asset for various cancers. The cuts include cutting about 35 of its 100 staffers and outsourcing some preclinical work. The company expects to save about $10 million per year, starting in 2020. FierceBiotech

> Amicus Therapeutics plans to build a 75,000-square-foot gene therapy R&D center in Philadelphia, to house up to 200 employees and serve as the company's global scientific headquarters. FierceBiotech