Jazz Pharma nabs Immunomedics' Iannone as R&D chief

Cancer in newspaper clipping
Jazz Pharmaceuticals is selling and developing a number of drugs for sleep disorders and cancer, while its mid- to late-stage pipeline is made up of therapies designed to stop certain blood cancers as well as one to help stop the toxicity of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell drugs. (PDPics/Pixabay)

Just over a month after walking out on troubled cancer biotech Immunomedics, Robert Iannone, M.D., has taken up the research chief job at Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Iannone walked away from his job as chief medical officer and R&D lead for Immunomedics at the end of April, echoing the Scott Gottlieb defense of wanting to be closer to home in Pennsylvania. Jazz is based, nominally at least, in Dublin, but has locations in the U.S., including in Pennsylvania.

He becomes the biotech’s executive vice president for R&D and will lead Jazz's growing global organization including preclinical development, clinical development, clinical operations, biostatistics, medical affairs, regulatory affairs, pharmacovigilance and safety functions.

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Currently, the company is selling and developing a number of drugs for sleep disorders and cancer, while its mid- to late-stage pipeline is made up of therapies designed to stop certain blood cancers as well as one to help stop the toxicity of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell drugs.

An AstraZeneca and Merck alumnus, he moved to Immunomedics in the spring of 2018 but hit the exit just a year later.

The troubled Immunomedics—which saw a potential $2 billion deal with Seattle Genetics scrapped two years back in a whirlwind that also saw the biotech’s board ax its former president and CEO Cynthia Sullivan—brought in Iannone to help steady the ship and focus on its cancer pipeline. The biotech is now looking for a replacement to calm the waters.

“I am excited to join Jazz at this time to work with its growing R&D team to further advance the company's mission and its transformation into a leading integrated biopharmaceutical company,” said Iannone.

“The company's evolving pipeline and deep relationships in the sleep and oncology medical communities are a testament to Jazz's commitment to advancing science to address unmet needs for patients.”

RELATED: Jazz pays $75M for chance to buy into ImmunoGen ADCs

Iannone brings more than 13 years of experience in clinical drug development, having worked on immuno-oncology programs at AstraZeneca and its biologics arm MedImmune before his sojourn at Immunomedics.

At AstraZeneca, he oversaw the development of the company’s late I-O offering Imfinzi, and was most recently senior vice president and head of I-O and global medicines development at the Britain-headquartered Big Pharma.

He joined AstraZeneca back in 2014 from rival Merck, where he was a development leader for PD-1 inhibitor star Keytruda.

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