Bob Hugin - Celgene

The man with the big biopharma growth plan

Name: Bob Hugin
Title: Chairman and CEO, Celgene

Any biotech dealmaker without Bob Hugin's Celgene on speed dial has either no interest in Celgene's core business areas or no interest in keeping his job. With the former Marine officer at the helm as CEO, Celgene ($CELG) has pulled the trigger on deal after deal, bagging products and drug prospects to grow its business in oncology and other key areas.

Even in biotech, you need a plan of attack. Hugin has kept the ship at Summit, NJ-based Celgene on a direct course that has involved increased sales of its marquee cancer drug, Revlimid, and keeping its radar in tune with the hottest biotech assets on the planet--some of which the company has pulled aboard via acquisitions while others remain under contract with outside developers.

Hugin, who joined Celgene as CFO in 1999, took over as CEO in June 2010. That month the company bought Abraxis to acquire its next-gen chemo drug Abraxane for $2.9 billion, giving the company another potential blockbuster cancer drug to complement its Revlimid franchise. Expanding its hematology pipeline, Celgene nailed down another anemia program in a deal with Acceleron in 2011 after an initial 2008 pact between the companies.

Revlimid, the blood cancer drug that brought in $3.8 billion last year, accounted for most of the company's 2012 revenue of $5.5 billion. Yet Hugin outlined last month during the J.P. Morgan meeting how Celgene will advance three more blockbusters in the coming years and double revenue to $12 billion by 2017.

A key catalyst is Abraxane. The chemo drug accounted for $427 million last year, but the drug succeeded in a late-stage study in pancreatic cancer, with applications planned for later this year for that use against the tough-to-treat tumors. Add the new FDA approval for the multiple myeloma drug pomalidomide and plans to file for marketing clearance of apremilast in psoriasis later this year, and Hugin has the goods to vastly expand the company.

Last year, Celgene occupied key terrain in oncology. The company paid $350 upfront for Avila Therapeutics (a 2010 Fierce 15 company), featuring a Btk inhibitor in Phase I development based on the biotech's platform for discovering covalent drugs. Then came a deal in the field of epigenetics with Epizyme involving $90 million in upfront money and investment from Celgene. Celgene closed the busy year of dealmaking with a pact to gain next-gen antibody-drug conjugates from Sutro Biopharma in a deal potentially worth $500 million.

Last year, Hugin's Celgene garnered the best reviews in the global biopharma industry for its dealings with outside companies on the deals front, according to a survey from Boston Consulting Group. George Golumbeski, Celgene's senior vice president of business development, deserves some kudos for this. Yet no good chief executive goes into battle without top generals in the field.

Biotech dealmakers like doing business with Celgene, which has beat its rivals in Big Pharma at leaving partners with good vibes about their relations with the company. And Hugin has a growing war chest to finance plenty of future partnerships and acquisitions. This makes the chief executive and chairman of Celgene undeniably influential at his company and around the industry.

-- Ryan McBride (email | Twitter)

Bob Hugin - Celgene
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