R&D chief Mackay puts his stamp on AZ pipeline plans

It's not often that a Big Pharma company like AstraZeneca ($AZN) touts its early- or mid-stage drug development program. The odds are stacked too high against success, and there's a very long road that stretches out before shareholders can begin to glean where the value is likely to come from.

But AZ's high profile R&D chief, Martin Mackay, didn't waste any time in pointing to the 100 compounds the company has in its early-stage pipe as he explained the source of his excitement to the Wall Street Journal. For Mackay, who was recruited from Pfizer last summer following its big merger, having 70 projects in Phase I or Phase II helped attract him to the job.

Mackay also introduced his development team at AstraZeneca. They are: Mene Pangalos, who helms early-stage drug research; Bahija Jallal, biologics R&D; Anders Ekblom, late-stage global medicines development.

"The handover point from early discovery to the clinical development stage is now at the Proof Of Concept stage [which is typically phase IIb] not at the earlier First In Human [testing] phase, as was the case in the past. So the handover is much later and with a different data set, and by the time it gets to the [late stage] clinical development group here, we have a much better idea as to whether it works."

- here's the article from the Wall Street Journal