Chutes & Ladders—Gilead’s commercial head leaves sales challenges behind

Parachute landscape

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.

Gilead's commercial head makes unexpected exit

Jim Meyers

Gilead Sciences
James Meyers will retire as EVP of commercial operations.

Sponsored By Syneos Health

Blazing a Trail to Clinical Trial Diversity: Four-Part Webinar Series from Syneos Health, Featuring Pharma, Clinical Research and Community Health Leaders

This series will identify obstacles that stifle appropriate patient diversity in trials; unpack the organizational overhaul needed; share how sponsors, patients & investigators have come together to overcome hurdles; and explore how policy innovations can move the industry forward.

James Meyers has been with Gilead since 1996. When he was promoted to head up commercial operations in late 2016, the company was already facing a series of sales challenges. As Gilead warned investors of hepatitis C sales decline in 2018 in the face of AbbVie’s cheaper rival Mavyret, Meyers has decided to retire after taking a brief family leave. Analysts have high hopes for the newly approved HIV combo drug Biktarvy, but GlaxoSmithKline doesn’t plan to yield. CAR-T treatments also have their own rollout problem, as insurers didn’t have the proper billing procedures in place. FiercePharma

Amgen veteran Kewalramani promoted to Vertex CMO

Vertex logo
Reshma Kewalramani

Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., was named CMO.

Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., spent 12 years at Amgen before moving to Vertex last February to serve as SVP of clinical development and medical affairs. She has now been promoted to Vertex’s CMO and EVP to succeed retiring Jeffrey Chodakewitz, M.D., who had spent 20 pre-Vertex years at Merck. Kewalramani’s role will be focused on its cystic fibrosis combo pipeline and some earlier work in mRNA and gene editing. The company also has programs in acute spinal injury, and cancer and influenza, which were out-licensed to Merck KGaA and Janssen, respectively. FierceBiotech

Recipharm CFO jumps ship to same role at Sobi

Henrik Stenqvist

Henrik Stenqvist will join as CFO.

Swedish CDMO Recipharm was on an expansion spree when Henrik Stenqvist joined as CFO from Meda in April 2017. CEO Thomas Eldered called 2016 “a transaction intensive year for Recipharm.” Besides a series of expansion plans, it bought a 74% stake (and the rest 26% in 2018) of India’s Nitin Lifesciences, and buying India’s Kemwell gave it an entry into the U.S. But the company started downsizing in late 2017. Stenqvist executed numerous M&As while at Meda, it’s no wonder why Sobi chief Guido Oelkers said his experience from acquisitions and deal-making will be of “immense value” for Sobi as he joins to replace current CFO Mats-Olof Wallin, who will retire by year-end. Release

> Michael Holston, Merck & Co.’s top lawyer, jumped ship to serve as General Electric’s new general counsel. Boston Business Journal article

> Bin Peng, M.D., Ph.D., former global head of oncology translational medicine at China Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, joined Chinese bispecific biotech EpimAb Biotherapeutics as CMO. FierceBiotech

> Marcelo Bigal, M.D., Ph.D., who was Teva's CSO for the specialty organization, was hired by Purdue Pharma as CMO. Release

> Oncology firm Oxford BioTherapeutics lured Celgene veteran Rahim Fandi, M.D., Ph.D., to the newly created role of CMO. FierceBiotech

> Paul Hastings, who recently stepped down as OncoMed's chairman, president and CEO after a series a clinical flops, joined Nkarta Therapeutics, which develops cancer cell therapies. Release

> Blade Therapeutics, which focuses on anti-fibrotic therapies, hired recent Rigel Pharmaceuticals CFO Ryan Maynard as its own CFO. Release

> The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) has launched a new company, GeneTx Biotherapeutics, with FAST Chairperson Paula Evans as the initial CEO, and Allyson Berent, FAST’s chief scientific officer, as COO. FierceBiotech

> Wills Hughes-Wilson, recently the chief patient access officer and SVP of access & external affairs at Sobi, joined Mereo BioPharma as head of patient access and commercial planning. Release

> Dmitry Shashkov, Ph.D., became president and CEO of Exogenesis. Release

> Pertinax Pharma appointed Paul Williams to business development manager to help bolster the company’s commercial team. Release

> Antibiotics developer Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals promoted CCO Larry Edwards to COO. Release

> West Pharmaceutical Services brought on MilliporeSigma’s CIO Silji Abraham as SVP and chief digital and transformation officer. Release

> Antibody developer GigaGen named Jan Fredrik Simons, Ph.D., as senior director of technology. Release