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.
Eisai installs new Alzheimer's clinical trial leadership team
Michael Irizarry was transferred to head up Alzheimer's disease clinical development, while Harald Hampel joins as VP of global medical affairs for the disease unit.
In the wake of aducanumab's clinical failure, Eisai presses on. The Japanese drugmaker has placed former Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline researcher Irizarry in charge of its Alzheimer's clinical development programs as it moves another beta-amyloid drug, BAN2401, into phase 3. Irizarry first joined the company as VP of clinical research for its epilepsy and sleep/wake groups last year. Eisai is also adding to the team, bringing in Hampel to devise the company's global medical strategies for Alzheimer's and dementia, including for phase 3b and 4 post-approval clinical trials, if one of its drugs makes it there. Most recently, Hampel was a professor at Sorbonne University in Paris, and previously served as the founding director of the Alzheimer Memorial Center at the University of Munich. FierceBiotech
Insys founder found guilty in landmark opioid bribery lawsuit
Founder John Kapoor is the first current C-level opioid executive found guilty in federal court for helping drive the nation's opioid epidemic.
Kapoor was found guilty on federal racketeering conspiracy charges for his role in an elaborate kickback scheme that aimed to goose sales of the powerful opioid spray Subsys by paying off doctors. A Boston jury also found four of his co-defendants guilty, including former national sales manager Michael Gurry and three other sales managers who were accused of treating doctors to lavish trips to strip clubs and expensive restaurants as well as offering company jobs to physicians’ family members. Insys’ former VP of sales, Alec Burlakoff, reached a plea deal in November for directing the paid speaker program, while former CEO Michael Babich pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and mail charges in January. Both went on to testify against Kapoor in court. FiercePharma
New Gilead chief plots Kite CEO hire, organizational tweaks
CEO Daniel O’Day plans to bring on a CEO for the Big Biotech's Kite unit.
The new chief, responsible for its key CAR-T therapy Yescarta, will report to O’Day and operate Kite as a separate business unit, according to a JPMorgan analyst note to clients. After taking the reins March 1, O'Day has decided to zero in on strengthening Gilead’s pipeline, in part through M&A, and will also be making organizational changes. Kite underperformed against expectations once again in the first quarter, with Yescarta’s $96 million in sales for the period checking in below the Wall Street consensus of $105 million. FiercePharma
> Bicycle Therapeutics has recruited Lisa Mahnke as senior VP and head of clinical, as well as Terrence West as VP and head of program management. Mahnke and West both worked at EMD Serono for several years before Mahnke joined Syros Pharmaceuticals. The hires come after CMO Maria Koehler left to join the synthetic lethality startup Repare Therapeutics. FierceBiotech
> FogPharma has hired Juno Therapeutics' Howard Stern as its new chief scientific officer and HotSpot Therapeutics' Peter Fekkes as its VP of discovery bioscience. Stern led Juno's translational work as a VP, while Fekkes headed up HotSpot's target platform. FierceBiotech
> Mohammed Dar is the latest AstraZeneca/MedImmune executive to jump ship to the U.K. biotech Immunocore, joining as head of clinical development and chief medical officer. Formerly MedImmune's VP of clinical development for oncology R&D, Dar follows Immunocore's new CEO, Bahija Jallal, R&D head David Berman and translational medicine lead Koustubh Ranade. FierceBiotech
> The medical devices director of the MHRA, John Wilkinson, has announced plans to step down at the end of October. He will follow departing agency CEO Ian Hudson as the second top administrator to do so in the wake of Brexit. FierceMedTech
> Robotic biologic-delivery capsule maker Rani Therapeutics has hired its first chief financial officer in Svai Sanford, who most recently served as interim CFO of pH Pharma after holding CFO posts at SFJ Pharmaceuticals and Vivus.
> Biohaven Pharmaceuticals has named Takeda sales VP William "BJ" Jones as its chief commercial officer for migraines and common diseases. He will oversee commercial development of the company's CGRP receptor antagonist platform portfolio and glutamate portfolio in Alzheimer's disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Release
> Zimmer Biomet's global VP of robotic surgery, Bill Shaw, has joined Ekso Bionics as chief commercial officer to oversee the global strategy for its exoskeleton technologies. Shaw previously held positions at Johnson & Johnson, Intuitive Surgical and Salesforce. Release
> Kyn Therapeutics has promoted Jeffrey Ecsedy to chief scientific officer and officially named Jason Sager as chief medical officer. Sager previously served as interim CMO, while Ecsedy joined Kyn as senior VP of R&D. Release
> Takeda is transferring Shire’s dry-eye drug Xiidra along with nearly 400 related employees in the U.S. and Canada over to Novartis in a $5.3 billion deal as it looks to lighten its debt burden following its buyout of Shire. FiercePharma