Chutes & Ladders—Eli Lilly veteran Derica Rice to retire as CFO

Longtime Eli Lilly CFO Derica Rice will retire after 27 years with the company.

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.

Lilly CFO Derica Rice to retire after 27 years with the company

Derica Rice

Eli Lilly
Derica Rice will retire as CFO.

Derica Rice, Eli Lilly’s EVP of global services and CFO since 2006, will retire at the end of this year after 27 years with the company. Rice served with three Lilly CEOs and helped navigate the company’s so-called “YZ” period, which refers to the difficult time between 2011 and 2014. Morgan Stanley analysts, in a recent research report, noted that Rice’s retirement “is not a major surprise given his long tenure and the Lilly board’s alternate choice for CEO,” referring to David Ricks’ appointment as CEO when Rice was also considered a candidate for that position last year. Since Rice is not jumping ship or retiring until the end of this year, analysts say they expect a smooth transition. The company said it’s considering internal and external candidates to succeed Rice. Release 

Akari CEO ousted after probe into inaccurate trial data

Gur Roshwalb
Gur Roshwalb, M.D., resigned as CEO.

Gur Roshwalb, M.D., has left Akari Therapeutics as its CEO, just a few days after the company put him on administrative leave as it investigated an inaccurate trial data report. The resignation came as an investigative committee ruled that Roshwalb had contravened company policy and found an Akari report falsely claimed a patient met the primary endpoint in a phase 2 trial of Coversin, the biotech’s rival to Alexion’s Soliris. Edison Investment Research drafted a report on that trial for Akari and then pulled it after learning it contained “material errors.” The report had been reviewed and approved by Roshwalb. The incident has clearly tarnished the biotech’s reputation as its shares fell 17% in after-hours trading. Ray Prudo, M.D., Akari’s executive chairman, is acting as CEO until a permanent replacement is found. FierceBiotech

MannKind promotes new CEO as company struggles with Afrezza sales


Michael Castagna

Michael Castagna became CEO.

Afrezza, an inhaled insulin, has not been selling well for years. And after Sanofi dropped the marketing rights because of poor sales, Mannkind, the diabetes drug’s developer, has to continue on its own. Now a new CEO has been entrusted to turn things around. Michael Castagna, who served as MannKind’s CCO, replaced Matthew Pfeffer, who was the company’s CFO from 2008 and took on additional role as CEO since last January. Although Pfeffer “set the foundation for the company during its transition into a commercial entity,” it is Castagna’s “deep commercial expertise” that the company could get more out from. MannKind has already been stepping up its effort, including connecting with patients on social media, making deals with payers, planning to ramp up in-house sales force. Rose Alinaya, the company’s principal accounting officer, serves as acting CFO until a permanent one is named. Release

> Gemphire’s CEO and president, Mina Sooch, has resigned for personal reasons, and Steven Gullans, Ph.D., a board member, steps in as interim chief before a permanent one is found. FierceBiotech

> Exec exodus seems unstoppable at Biogen, and Kenneth DiPietro, the biotech’s EVP of human resources, became the latest to be stepping down. Boston Business Journal story

> Kevin Bitterman, founding CEO of Editas, among other startup biotechs, has become a partner at Atlas Venture, which focuses on funding young biotechs. FierceBiotech

> San Diego-based AmpliPhi Biosciences replaced resigning CEO M. Scott Salka with Paul C. Grint, M.D. Release

> Ryan Daws, Concert Pharma’s CFO is leaving the company to return to investment banking, but he will continue to consult with the company as managing director. Release

> Merrimack’s CFO and head of corporate development Yasir Al-Wakeel will step down on June 9, 2017. Release

> ​​​​​​​The list of this week’s biopharma exec departures continues with another CFO: Ola Burmark will leave Medivir as its CFO at the end of August. Release

> ​​​​​​​Santiago Arroyo, M.D., Ph.D., who used to work for Pfizer, left his previous role as CMO at Boston Pharma and joined Momenta Pharma as CMO and SVP of development. Release

> ​​​​​​​Pharm-Olam named John Barry, who worked at executive roles for two top CROs and was previously with Merck, as its COO. Release

> ​​​​​​​Fresh off two recent U.S. acquisitions, U.K. CRO Quotient Clinical appointed Azhar Kalim as CCO. Release

> ​​​​​​​Fortimedix Surgical, a medical device company, named David Castiglioni as VP of sales in the U.S. Release