Everest appoints Gilead, COVID therapy vet CEO to bring therapies to market in China

Less than a month after Everest revealed that CEO Kerry Blanchard had resigned, the Chinese drug developer unveiled that his replacement would be pharma veteran Rogers Yongqing Luo.

Luo had previously served as Brii Biosciences' president and general manager for greater China—as well as CEO of Brii’s TSB Therapeutics unit—where he oversaw the registration and commercialization of the amubarvimab/romlusevimab combination, the first COVID-19 neutralizing antibody treatment in the country. Before that, Luo headed up Gilead’s China operations, overseeing the launch of eight therapeutics in the region.

Top of Luo’s to-do list will be securing Chinese approvals for Calliditas Therapeutics’ Nefecon, which is approved in the U.S. for lgA nephropathy, as well as Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals’ Xerava, which is approved in the U.S. and European Union for complicated intra-abdominal infections. Everest secured the rights for both drugs in China in 2019 and 2018, respectively.

“Rogers' leadership will strengthen Everest's new product development and commercial capabilities as we progress toward potential approvals of our late-stage anchor product candidates, including Nefecon, Xerava, etrasimod and mRNA vaccines,” Everest chairman Wei Fu said in a Sept. 18 release.

Luo will replace Blanchard, who served two years at Everest following a stint at Innovent Biologics and a 17-year spell at Eli Lilly. Blanchard took Everest public months after taking up the CEO post, raising 3.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($320 million) to advance treatments for oncology, autoimmune disorders, cardio-renal disease and infectious disease.

But after seeing Everest’s share price rise toward 100 Hong Kong dollars in its first months on public markets, Blanchard later oversaw a steady decline. The stock is now down 90% from the peak it hit early last year.