Chutes & Ladders—Ex-GSK CEO Andrew Witty to lead UnitedHealth’s Optum

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 Angus Liu (email), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Ex-GSK CEO Andrew Witty named CEO of UnitedHealth’s Optum

Andrew Witty

Andrew Witty will become CEO.

Ex-pharma executives’ next stops tend to be biotechs or venture capital firms or even the government system. But former GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty didn’t take any of those paths, instead, he will take over the CEO post at UnitedHealth Group’s pharmacy benefits unit, Optum. Even when he headed up the British pharma giant, he had shown passion in drug pricing. He saw the growing payer pressure coming for the industry and prepped GSK for it, and now, his new position at one of America’s largest PBMs will give him significant power to help shape the pricing landscape. FiercePharma

Novartis shuffles executive team to leverage the power of digital

Novartis Logo

André Wyss will leave as president Novartis Operations and country president for Switzerland.

André Wyss started his journey with Novartis as a chemistry apprentice in manufacturing and grew all the way to president of operations and country president for Switzerland. Now, he has decided to leave for another career. As a result, Novartis Operations will be split into Technical Operations and Business Services, to be headed up by Steffen Lang and Philippe Barrois ad interim, respectively. Barrois, together with Chief Digital Officer Bertrand Bodson and Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer Shannon Klinger, will join the executive committee, changes that new CEO Vas Narasimhan said will help Novartis lead in data and digital. FiercePharma

Gilead bids farewell to longtime R&D lead Bischofberger

Norbert Bischofberger

Norbert Bischofberger, Ph.D., will step down as EVP of R&D and CSO.

Norbert Bischofberger, Ph.D., who started at Gilead in 1990 and became CSO 11 years ago, will step down this April and leave completely in July. In nearly 30 years with the company, he oversaw the development of more than 25 compounds, including some major players in hepatitis C and HIV. John McHutchison, M.D., currently EVP of clinical research, will take over as CSO. Andrew Cheng, M.D., Ph.D., EVP of clinical research & development operations will become CMO, overseeing the firm’s HIV clinical program and the medical affairs organization. FierceBiotech

> Takeda announced that its CFO James Kehoe will step down to pursue other opportunity outside of the pharma sector, and Costa Saroukos, CFO of the company’s Europe and Canada unit, will take over. Release

> Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Maura Dickler, M.D., was appointed Eli Lilly’s new VP of late-phase development in oncology. FierceBiotech

> Julie Hambleton, M.D., who was previously VP and head of U.S. medical at Bristol-Myers Squibb and was Five Prime Therapeutics’ CMO, was named SVP and CMO at oncology-focused Ideaya as the company raised a $94 million crossover round. Release | Read more on FierceBiotech

> Medivir’s four-year CMO John Öhd, who helped build its clinical pipeline and clinical development team, will leave the company. Release

> Peter Mundel, M.D., who played a key role in the launch of kidney disease specialist Goldfinch Bio while at Third Rock Ventures, was named CSO of the biotech. Release

> Once a professor of medicine and urology at UCSF, then as CMO of Genomic Health, Phil Febbo, M.D., will act as Illumina’s CMO, starting March 26. Release

> Weeks after naming Kenji Yasukawa as president and CEO, Astellas appointed Percival Barretto-Ko to president of Americas operations. Rod Christmon was promoted to lead the HR team for the global function, and Matt Silversten and Brian Taylor were lifted to VPs in the legal sector. Release | Release

> WuXi NextCODE promoted recently joined COO Rob Brainin, who previously served stints at Illumina and Thermo Fisher, to succeed Hannes Smárason as CEO. Release

> Ipsen hired Ivana Magovčević-Liebisch, Ph.D., once Teva’s head of global business development, as EVP and CBO, and named Staples’ recent HR head Régis Mulot as its own chief human resources officer. Release

> Five Prime Therapeutics’ CFO Marc Belsky has resigned to pursue another opportunity. Release

> CAR-T therapy developer Mustang Bio promoted Sadik Kassim, Ph.D., to CSO, and Knut Niss, Ph.D., to chief technology officer. Release

> Therachon appointed recent Shire executive Aled Williams as CCO and head of patient access. Release

> Novavax promoted SVP of commercial operations, John Trizzino, to CBO and CFO. Release

> Cure Pharma hired 11-year Amgen veteran Steven Ruhl as its new VP of manufacturing. Release

> Jehan Rowlands joined Actinium Pharmaceuticals as VP and head of regulatory affairs, as the company prepares a BLA with the FDA for its lead myeloablation product. Release

> David A. Spellman jumped ship from Vertex to serve as Mersana Therapeutics’ CFO. Release

> Gamida Cell named Shai Lankry to succeed Naftali Brikashvili as its new CFO. Release

> U.K.-based drug discovery services company Domainex named Bodo Spori head of business development for Europe. Release

> Center Point Clinical Services, which has a siteless CRO platform, named its founder and chairman, Gerald Finken, as CEO. Release

> Medtech firm ProLung appointed Kristin Larson to director of clinical affairs. Release