Chutes & Ladders: FDA’s new drugs director to retire after Sarepta’s Exondys 51 fallout

FDA’s new drugs director John Jenkins retires after 15 years at the position.

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.

FDA’s new drugs director John Jenkins retires after 15 years at the job

FDAJohn Jenkins

Dr. John Jenkins, director of the Office of New Drugs, will retire.

The FDA’s approval of Sarepta’s DMD drug Exondys 51 attracted controversy within the agency. Now Dr. John Jenkins, director of the Office of New Drugs, who, along with Dr. Ellis Unger, director of the Office of Drug Evaluation, voiced disapproval for the FDA’s decision, citing insufficient evidence in proving the med’s clinical benefit, is set to retire on Jan. 6. Succeeding him as acting director is CDER Director Dr. Janet Woodcock, a leading supporter of that disupted passage. Jenkins joined the agency in 1992 as a medical officer at CDER and has spent the recent 15 years as leader of OND, where he designed and oversaw the new drugs application and review process. FierceBiotech

Teva’s generics CEO Olafsson exits with Actavis’ transition still on the agenda

TevaSiggi Olafsson

Siggi Olafsson is leaving the company as head of generics.

A vote of confidence from Teva’s exec: The company’s generics group CEO Siggi Olafsson is running away from the Actavis-infused section just a few months after he personally championed that deal. It was in August when Teva completed its acquisition of Allergan’s generics business, Actavis, and the integration process is still not finished. Now that the captain has abandoned ship, it’s no surprise that suspicion starts to simmer among investors who question whether the deal will benefit Teva the way the company has previously advocated. The fact that Olafsson worked at Actavis for quite some time from 2003 to 2014 makes him the perfect fit to see the integration through. But now, that information is only adding to the uneasiness overshadowing the shareholders. Dipankar Bhattacharjee, Teva Generics Europe’s current head has been appointed to take over from Olafsson. FiercePharma

ViiV Healthcare CEO becomes the recent episode of GSK’s ‘musical execs’

Viiv Healthcare

Deborah Waterhouse

ViiV Healthcare
Deborah Waterhouse will replace Dominique Limet as CEO.

There is no better way to describe a series of recent GlaxoSmithKline executive changes than “musical chairs.” They come and go, up and down, like cards being shuffled. This time, it is the HIV unit ViiV Healthcare’s turn, as Dominique Limet, current head of the company would step down—together with outgoing GSK CEO Andrew Witty—at the end of March 2017 and be replaced by Deborah Waterhouse, GSK’s SVP of primary care; and VP of U.S. primary care sales Cheryl MacDiarmid was named Waterhouse’s successor. The first tile flipped was Witty, whose departure was announced earlier in March. Later in September, then consumer chief Emma Walmsley was appointed to lead the company, while Brian McNamara, formerly with Novartis, was slated to take on Walmsley’s post. Just to add to the list, vaccines chief Moncef Slaoui will leave next June, and Thomas Willemsen will become GSK’s new China GM, taking the reins from Herve Gisserot who will go on to be head of pharmaceuticals for the Asia-Pacific region. FiercePharma

> Brad Margus will lead Cerevance, a neuroscience R&D JV established by Japanese Pharma Takeda and VC Lightstone. FierceBiotech

> Former AstraZeneca vet Dr. John H. Rex has been appointed CMO of Novartis- and Novo-backed antifungal biotech F2G. Release

> Usman Azam, former head of now closed Novartis’ cell and gene therapy unit has become president and CEO of Tmunity Therapeutics. BioSpace story

> Compugen, a predictive drug discovery company, announced that Kirk A. Christoffersen has joined the company as SVP of corporate & business development. Release

> Asceneuron tapped ex-Novartis official and central nervous system clinical research vet Dr. J. Michael Ryan as CMO. Release

> Agenovir, a company using computationally engineered nuclease technology to develop novel antiviral therapeutics, has announced appointment of Dr. Dirk Thye as CEO. Release

> Exactus, a developer of point-of-care diagnostic devices, appointed James R. Erickson as chief business officer. Release