CEO Witty set to step aside at GSK

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word--or the bad--from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Amirah Al Idrus (email | Twitter), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

CEO Witty set to step aside at GSK

CEO Andrew Witty announced he's stepping down.

Andrew Witty is giving up the CEO job at U.K. drug giant GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), announcing this week he'll step aside in March 2017 following months of investor pressure on the company and rumors he'd be leaving. Witty took the job in 2008 and has worked to steer the pharma toward reliable, lower-margin products such as vaccines and consumer drugs and away from high-risk pharma. Investors started grumbling in 2014 when GSK was caught up in a bribery scandal in China and paid a $489 million fine as a result, but Advair's collapse really turned up the heat. The transition timeline will give GSK plenty of time to scout for replacement candidates, with market watchers pointing to GSK CFO Simon Dingemans and Novartis' ($NVS) pharma chief David Epstein as possibilities. "I believe this will be the right time for a new leader to take over," Witty said in a statement about his departure. "In making this decision it has been important to me that the board has the time to conduct a full and proper process." Story

Following Amgen deal, Unilife CEO Alan Shortall resigns

CEO Alan Shortall resigned.


On the heels of a much-needed alliance with Amgen ($AMGN) which gave it a cash lifeline, drug delivery device specialist Unilife ($UNIS) has entered restructure mode. The struggling York, PA, company announced that its CEO, Alan Shortall, and COO, Dr. Ramin Mojdeh, have resigned. Executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles will be searching for a permanent CEO, while senior vice president and general counsel John Ryan takes the helm as interim CEO. He will be helped by a new executive leadership team. In addition, the company now has two business units: Wearable and Auto Injectors and Prefilled Syringes. More

Kymab names Dr. David Chiswell its CEO

Dr. David Chiswell was named CEO.

Dr. David Chiswell, previously serving as interim CEO at Cambridge, U.K., biotech Kymab, was named the company's permanent CEO this week. With the move, Chiswell will step down from his chairman role, while Dr. Tim Rink will serve as lead director. Chiswell's appointment comes on the heels of a $90 million Series B funding round with a who's who syndicate of investors that included Neil Woodford, Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. An antibodies-to-medicines company, Kymab is working with its genetically engineered mouse platform Kymouse to generate fully human antibodies against a variety of targets. With a library of more than 100 trillion antibodies, Kymab's promise has attracted R&D partners including Novo Nordisk ($NVO), the Sanger Institute and the Gates Foundation. The personnel moves take effect in April. Release

Drug distributor McKesson is laying off 1,600 people. Story


> Heron ($HRTX) appointed David Szekeres as SVP of business development, general counsel and corporate secretary. Release

> Suzanne Dee joined Centrillion Technologies as vice president of product science. Release

> Vivex Biomedical hired David Fronk as vice president of quality systems and promoted Shabnam Namin to vice president of research and development. Release

> Sound Pharmaceuticals appointed Paul Rickey as chief financial officer. Release

> Mologen named Walter Miller as CFO. Release

Ex-Sanofi Genzyme group VP Bruce Roberts joined Vedanta as chief scientific officer. Release

M Pharmaceuticals CEO Mathew Lehman resigned from his position. Release

Patrick Carroll joined Sage Science as executive vice president. Release

Opko Health ($OPK) named Dr. Gregory Henderson as president of Bio-Reference Laboratories. Release

Remedy Pharmaceuticals appointed Thomas MacAllister as its vice president of research and development and general counsel. Release

Dr. Diego Miralles joined Adaptive Biotech as its president of Adaptive Therapeutics. Release

Ad Smolders joined Reverdia as its operations director. Release

BioAxial appointed Georges Tabary as its CEO. Release

Poxel appointed Jonae Barnes as its senior vice president of investor relations and public relations. Release

Heart Metabolics named Dr. Robert Shalwitz its chief operating officer, Dr. Mark Midei to the position of executive director, head of cardiology, and Ian Howes its chief financial officer. Release

NantKwest ($NK) named Dr. Fatih Uckun as its vice president of research and clinical development. Release

Med tech

Insulet ($PODD) named Aiman Abdel-Malek as senior vice president of advanced technology and engineering. Release

> Healionics appointed Mike Connolly as CEO. Release

> MediGene CFO Peter Llewellyn-Davies will leave the company by March 31. Release

> MagForce appointed Barbara von Frankenberg as vice president of communications and investor relations. Release

> 4Tech appointed Hardip Thakerar as global vice president of therapy development. Release

Via Surgical brought on Dr. Morris Franklin Jr. as its medical adviser. Release