Everest hires ex-Lilly leader to oversee push for Chinese market

Eli Lilly veteran Kerry Blanchard led a 400-person Chinese R&D group at the pharma company. (Pixabay/rawpixel)

Everest Medicines has named Eli Lilly veteran Kerry Blanchard as its CEO. Blanchard takes up the top job at the Shanghai-based biopharma company on the back of a career built around a 17-year spell at Lilly.

From 2000 to 2017, Blanchard rose through the ranks at Lilly, culminating in him holding the title of senior vice president, China drug development. Blanchard’s push into the Chinese drug development space shaped his moves after leaving Lilly late in 2017. The former Lilly SVP initially took up the chief scientific officer job at Innovent Biologics before spending a stint as a consultant.

Now, Blanchard has wound his way back to biopharma and landed his first CEO role. The position puts Blanchard in charge of a pipeline of eight late-stage assets that Everest Medicines has built up by striking deals with companies including Arena Pharmaceuticals and Immunomedics.

The deals have given Everest the Chinese rights to drugs that originated outside of the country. By running studies in Asia and taking advantage of the newfound openness of Chinese regulators to data generated overseas, Everest hopes to bring the products to market in its home territory and thereby serve as an entry point for Western drug developers.

This year marks a big moment for Everest’s pursuit of that model. Everest expects to file its first NDA this year. And, with plans to start two registration trials to add to the four it initiated in 2019, Everest is laying the groundwork for more submissions down the line.

Everest pointed to Blanchard’s time at Lilly to explain its belief that he is the right person to lead it through this critical period. Specifically, Everest highlighted Blanchard’s work leading a 400-person R&D group tasked with taking assets through the clinic at a time of change for the Chinese regulatory system. Everest also highlighted the R&D partnerships Blanchard oversaw during his time at Lilly.