Bayer was keeping mum yesterday on where its R&D vet Andreas Busch, Ph.D., was heading after it announced his exit and a big change-up in its research unit, but early this morning Shire announced he would be joining their company.
At Shire, he becomes its EVP and new head of research and development, as well as its chief scientific officer. Meanwhile, Howard Mayer, M.D., currently interim head of its R&D operations, will become its chief medical officer. Both changes are effective from next month.
Just yesterday, Bayer announced it would be combining its pharma R&D unit under one division and under one leader, namely Joerg Moeller, currently its head of development within the pharma’s pharmaceuticals division.
But that left no room at the inn for Busch, also a Sanofi alumnus, who has been the head of drug discovery (i.e., its early-stage work) within the pharmaceuticals division of Bayer. But his exit has been Shire’s gain.
“Andy is an outstanding scientist with extensive experience leading research and development functions, and an established track record of building broad portfolios that encompass both biologics and small molecules,” said Flemming Ornskov, M.D., CEO at Shire. “We look forward to Andy enabling us to further accelerate our ability to discover novel treatments for our innovative rare disease pipeline.”
This comes as Shire is hard at work across a number of early- to late-stage pipeline meds, including in fatty liver disease, hereditary angioedema as well as hemophilia. It’s also been steadily building its MAb research capability, which now includes MAb programs in diabetic macular edema, antibody-mediated autoimmune disease and anti-thrombotic therapy.
But as with many biopharmas, Shire has also had to make cutbacks: In the summer, it said it had decided to concentrate its U.S. operations into two main sites in Massachusetts—Cambridge and Lexington—in a move that will likely lead to the closure of some sites.
The Ireland-headquartered group employs more than 3,000 people in the state but stressed that despite the consolidation plans, it does not expect any significant reduction in overall headcount. In fact, some R&D staffers will be moved to Massachusetts from Europe, and the company is expecting to make plenty of new hires in the coming years.
That move came in the midst of a big transformation for Shire, which acquired both Dyax and Baxalta last year and left it with a huge task in refining its commercial structures, ushering a dramatically increased pipeline of products to market and advancing a broader R&D base with around 40 drugs in clinical development.
That work will now be headed up by Busch. He said: “I am excited by the opportunity to lead the research and development function for Shire, which has developed and brought to market numerous high-impact medicines targeting underserved patient populations.
“This is a unique time to join Shire, as it has built an industry-leading pipeline of rare disease programs in recent years and has a sharp focus on serial innovation in areas of significant patient need. I believe there is tremendous opportunity to accelerate this effort and look forward to leading this talented R&D team.”