GE Healthcare executive jumps ship to lead dermatology biotech LEO

LEO Pharma's new leader comes after big deals with Bayer and PellePharm and nabbing an ex-Sanofi executive to lead the company's early R&D work. (LEO Pharma)

After more than a decade, LEO Pharma is getting a new chief executive as it looks to the future for a boosted pipeline and launches. 

LEO has enjoyed a good few months. It signed up Thomas Hultsch, an ex-Sanofi executive, as its new head of translational medicine at the beginning of the year, a few months after it penned a $760 million biobucks rare skin disease R&D deal with PellePharm.

These deals were overseen by ultralong-term LEO veteran Gitte Aabo, with 11 years as president and CEO (and 27 in total at the Denmark-based company). Nearly three decades appears to be enough for Aabo, who is stepping aside Aug. 1.

In her place will come Catherine Mazzacco, currently head of global commercial operations for GE Healthcare’s BioPharma division, where she has been for the past 18 months. Previously, Mazzacco served a 15-year stint in various positions at Abbott in its vision division and in diabetes care.

She will now lead LEO Pharma into its next phase, which is to “help 125 million patients [with skin diseases] by 2025,” according to its blurb.

RELATED: LEO Pharma inks $760M rare skin disease R&D deal with PellePharm

Aabo said: “Our focus on helping people achieve healthy skin and our 2025 strategy have set LEO Pharma on a new trajectory. This is the right time to hand over to a successor who will oversee the coming product launches and secure the long-term success of LEO Pharma.

“I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to help patients during my career at LEO Pharma, and for having worked with such great people. I am proud of what we have achieved together and of the company I pass on to my successor.”

Last year, LEO bought out Bayer’s prescription dermatology business, which pulled in €280 million ($328 million) in 2017 sales. The deal included the topical acne drug Skinoren, fungal skin infections dual Travogen and Travocort, rosacea remedy Finacea and several topical steroids including Advantan, Nerisona and Desonate.

In the PellePharm deal, the Danish company handed over $70 million in equity financing and R&D support to bankroll a global phase 3 trial of PellePharm’s patidegib, a topical gel that blocks the hedgehog signaling pathway to treat Gorlin syndrome.