Gilead CSO, R&D head McHutchison the latest to bid company adieu

Red Exit sign
During his tenure at Gilead Sciences, John McHutchison oversaw the development of five hepatitis drugs and also led the Big Pharma’s expansion into oncology. (Leeroy Agency)

After nine years at Gilead Sciences and just over one year as chief scientific officer and R&D chief, John McHutchison, M.D., is leaving the company. He officially steps down in two weeks and will take with him a $1.1 million payment, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. 

McHutchison joined Gilead from Duke University Medical Center in 2010, taking the role of senior vice president of liver disease therapeutics. He moved up the ranks, serving as EVP of clinical research before taking on the top job of CSO and EVP of R&D in 2018 when Gilead’s longtime R&D lead Norbert Bischofberger, Ph.D., stepped down. 

“Over the past nine years, John’s scientific contributions and leadership have played an instrumental role in shaping our research efforts and in improving care for millions of patients with life-threatening illnesses,” said Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day in a statement Wednesday. “Under his guidance, the company was able to rapidly advance our hepatitis C portfolio, enabling therapies to reach people in need at an unprecedented pace, and he has continued to build on that work by helping the company expand its therapeutic areas of focus.” 

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RELATED: Gilead CEO O'Day continues top-level revamp with two more exec exits 

During his tenure at Gilead, McHutchison oversaw the development of five hepatitis drugs and also led the Big Pharma’s expansion into oncology with its blood cancer med Zydelig. 

Gilead said Hutchison “decided” to leave the company but gave no other detail on his departure. And he’s not the only one leaving—Gilead announced on the same day that Chief Patient Officer Gregg Alton and human resources chief Katie Watson are also on their way out. 

Both departures will cap double-digit terms at Gilead, where Alton and Watson have worked since 1999 and 2003, respectively. Jyoti Mehra will step up to preside over Gilead’s worldwide HR function. 

During his tenure at Gilead, McHutchison oversaw the development of five hepatitis drugs and also led the Big Pharma’s expansion into oncology with its blood cancer med Zydelig. 

This week’s exits are far from the first announced under O’Day’s leadership. The longtime Roche exec signed on to lead Gilead late last year, taking over from John Milligan in March. Since then, he’s been playing musical execs, poaching Johanna Mercier from Bristol-Myers Squibb to be Gilead’s commercial chief, displacing Laura Hamill after less than a year and bringing on Eli Lilly’s Christi Shaw for a newly created Kite Pharma CEO post. 

And there’s more work to come for O’Day. He will be hunting for McHutchison’s replacement as well as one for Robin Washington, the company’s longtime chief financial officer planning to retire next year.

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