Chutes & Ladders—GlaxoSmithKline poaches Merck KGaA exec to run U.S. pharma


Chutes and Ladders
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 Kyle Blankenship, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

GSK poaches Merck KGaA exec to replace departing U.S. pharma president Bailey

Maya Martinez-Davis will take over as U.S. head of pharma. 

The president of Merck KGaA’s Latin America pharma business.will take over for Jack Bailey, who plans to step down at the end of the year. In Martinez-Davis, GSK is picking up an exec with experience in one of its key focus areas: oncology. After trading away its cancer assets back in early 2015, CEO Emma Walmsley reprioritized the field last year with pipeline moves and a $5.1 billion Tesaro deal. Now, it’ll have an exec on board who in the past has served as both senior vice president of Merck KGaA’s global oncology business and as a regional president of Pfizer’s oncology portfolio in North America. FiercePharma

Novartis names Bulto new U.S. pharma chief as exec reshuffle continues

Victor Bulto has been pegged as U.S. pharma chief.

The head of Novartis' U.S. immunology, hepatology and dermatology franchise will take the reins from Fabrice Chouraqui, who took the U.S. job in 2016 from now-Gilead exec Christi Shaw. Chouraqui expects to step down at the end of the month. The Swiss drugmaker didn’t offer a reason for Chouraqui’s departure but praised his “strong leadership, ethics and integrity.” Bulto, a 14-year Novartis exec, was key in driving the U.S. success of psoriasis drug Cosentyx and also worked across every therapeutic area at Novartis, the company said. He will report to Marie France Tschudin, president of Novartis Pharmaceuticals globally, who just herself came onto that role after Paul Hudson left to take the helm at Sanofi from retiring Olivier Brandicourt. FiercePharma

Allergan CEO Saunders lines up for $39M parachute after AbbVie buy

CEO Brent Saunders eligible for $39 million severance after takeover.

If AbbVie’s $63 billion takeover of Allergan goes through, veteran CEO Saunders will net a cool $38.7 million, according to a regulatory filing. The Allergan skipper is set to pocket $14.9 million in cash as part of his golden parachute. That’s on top of $23.6 million in equity, the majority of which is made up of stock awards that pay off based on performance. That, of course, doesn’t include the 167,909 shares of Allergan Saunders currently holds. At AbbVie’s takeover price of $188 per share, those are worth more than $31 million. FiercePharma

AveXis’ former CSO Brian Kaspar and his brother Allan Kaspar, previously AveXis’ senior VP of R&D, are no longer with the company after Novartis confirmed that its gene therapy Zolgensma's FDA approval application contained manipulated data. The two top scientists were shunted aside in early May, when Novartis internally confirmed the screw-up but had not yet notified the FDA. The Kaspar brothers' jobs, rolled into one, went to Page Bouchard, most recently global head of preclinical safety for Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. FiercePharma

Sun Pharma’s managing director, Dilip Shanghvi, took a huge 99% pay cut to a symbolic Rs 1, worth less than 1.5 U.S. cents, for the fiscal year ended March. The plunge came as Sun’s leadership was recently embroiled in allegations of dubious corporate governance practices. Other than Rs 262,800 ($3,690) in perks—including travel and medical expenses—Shangvi collected no other compensation. FiercePharma

 Regeneron expects to add 1,500 workers to its 2,700-employee-strong workforce in New York by 2024 as part of an $800 million production push in the state.The cash infusion will fund the third and final phase of the drugmaker's East Greenbush site expansion, with a 240,000-square-foot office and lab space and 350,000 square feet of manufacturing space on the way. FiercePharma

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has brought on Andrew Trister, who has worked on special projects at Apple since 2016, to serve in a new role helping lead its global digital health efforts, according to CNBC. Trister previously held positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Oregon Health & Science University. At the Gates Foundation, his title will be deputy director of digital health innovation. FierceMedTech

Floyd Romesberg, Ph.D., the renowned Scripps Research scientist and scientific founder of synthetic cytokine biotech Synthorx, has bid the institute adieu. His exit is shrouded in mystery, though—and Scripps isn’t dropping any hints. Romesberg left La Jolla-based Scripps in mid-June, the institute told the San Diego Union-Tribune Thursday. He had been investigated and cleared for a potential violation of Title IX, a law that bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal financial assistance. FierceBiotech

> Immunovant has named Robert Zeldin as its newest CMO. Zeldin, who last worked as CMO of Acceleron Pharma, arrives at Immunovant shortly after the company moved its lead drug into phase 2 trials in two indications. FierceBiotech

John Johnson, Melinta’s fourth CEO in as many years, is stepping down, along with Kevin Ferro, the chairman of the board. Johnson will stay on for at least the next month, while David Gill, another board member, will replace Ferro. Johnson will serve as interim CEO over the next 30 days and help the company find his successor, Melinta said in a statement. Once the new CEO is in place, Johnson will continue as an adviser to Melinta for at least six months. FierceBiotech

Wave Life Sciences has named Mark Baldry as chief commercial officer, a newly created position. Most recently, Baldry served as senior VP of global marketing and commercial operations at Amicus Therapeutics and previously held senior leadership roles at Biogen and Shire Pharmaceuticals. Release

Daiichi Sankyo has pegged Simon King as its first chief people officer. The new role combines existing leadership positions within the company's HR division. King most recently worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he served as global head of talent and workforce innovation and head of HR global research and development. Before that, King held leadership positions at AstraZeneca. Release

> Orly Mishan, previously a principal at Bain Capital Life Sciences, will join Cerevel Therapeutics as its newest CBO. Mishan was a founding member of the Bain Capital Life Sciences team and helped execute the partnership with Pfizer that led to the formation of Cerevel. Prior to Bain Capital, Mishan was the VP of corporate strategy at Biogen. Release

> Francis (Frank) Perier Jr. will join SpringWorks Therapeutics as CFO. Perier previously served as CFO and executive VP of finance for Forest Laboratories prior to its acquisition by Actavis in 2014. Perier held positions at Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Deloitte before joining Forest. Release (PDF)

Christoph Rentsch has decided to step down as CFO of Santhera by year-end "in order to pursue his career outside the Company," Santhera said.The company is looking for a successor, and Rentsch will act as adviser until a replacement is found. Release (PDF)

iTeos Therapeutics SA has appointed Matthew Call as its COO. Call joins the team with 20 years of experience in operational leadership and business development roles and most recently served as COO at Endocyte, which was acquired by Novartis for $2.1 billion in 2018. Release

Prime Therapeutics has named Kelly McGrail-Pokuta as its VP of pharmacy trade relations. McGrail-Pokuta has held leadership positions within OptumRx and Diplomat Pharmacy along with program and product management positions with then-CVS Caremark and pharmaceutical companies. Most recently, she worked as a consultant in the pharmacy benefit management and pharmacy space. Release

Sterling, Virginia-based biotech Aperiomics has appointed C. Alexander Valencia, Ph.D., as its chief clinical officer. Prior to joining Aperiomics, Valencia served as the molecular laboratory director at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and PerkinElmer Genomics.