Chutes & Ladders—AstraZeneca nets executive to lead breast cancer R&D

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Welcome to this week’s Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Conor Hale, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

AstraZeneca hires R&D exec to lead breast cancer research, $7B Daiichi drug pact


AstraZeneca
Sunil Verma was named VP and head of breast cancer strategy and global clinical leader in oncology R&D.

Verma will come on board this summer to lead the team for AZ’s $7 billion Daiichi-partnered drug, trastuzumab deruxtecan (aka DS-8201), an antibody-drug conjugate with an FDA breakthrough tag, plus the overall strategy for the Big Pharma’s breast cancer portfolio. This comes amid departures and rejigs across its R&D and commercial units, including this year’s hiring of controversial scientist José Baselga to run a new cancer-focused unit. Verma joins after leading the Department of Oncology at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. He also served as the medical director of Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre. FierceBiotech

Teva starred in price-fixing scheme, but 19 others ‘willingly’ joined, AGs claim


Teva Pharmaceutical
The complaint names Teva’s former senior VP and North America Chief Commercial Officer Maureen Cavanaugh, plus three other former executives, among more than a dozen individual defendants. 

Described as possibly “the largest cartel case in the history of the United States,” 44 states have sued 20 generic drug manufacturers for price fixing after five years of investigation—personally naming 15 of those companies’ executives—placing Teva at the center of it all while implicating Novartis’ Sandoz unit, Mylan, Pfizer and several others. In a 524-page complaint, the states identified more than 100 drugs for which they allege the defendants illegally divided up markets and plotted price hikes that in some cases reached above 1,000%. Teva said that the lawsuit only presents allegations at this point, and that it would continue to review the issue internally and will defend itself in court. Cavanaugh currently works at Lannett, another defendant in the case. FiercePharma

EUSA Pharma nabs new execs, including Abeona’s recently ousted CEO


EUSA Pharma
Carsten Thiel was named president of Europe, while Darrel Cohen was brought on as head of clinical development.

Thiel was kicked out after a few months as CEO of the U.S.-based gene therapy specialist Abeona Therapeutics in November amid allegations of “misconduct towards colleagues,” although the exact details were never shared. At EUSA, he’ll lead its growing commercial infrastructure in Europe, the company said, in a newly created role. Cohen also takes a newly created position at the company to focus on its late-stage pipeline work. Cohen comes to EUSA after working in Pfizer’s global oncology organization as VP and clinical development leader, having previously led clinical development for cancer drugs Xalkori and Sutent. FierceBiotech

> FierceBiotech Fierce 15 winner Beam Therapeutics made a handful of new leadership appointments, including Christine Bellon as senior VP and chief legal officer. Previously, Bellon was general counsel and corporate secretary of Forma Therapeutics and senior VP for legal affairs at Relay Therapeutics. Beam also brought on Susan O’Connor as chief human resources officer and Epizyme’s Suzanne Fleming as senior VP of finance. In addition, Beam’s head of business development and strategy, Courtney Wallace, was promoted to senior VP. Release

> FierceMedTech Fierce 15 winner Glympse Bio has appointed Wendy Winckler as its chief scientific officer. Winckler previously served as executive director of next-generation diagnostics at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, and held positions at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as well as the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Release

> The former head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Michelle Lee, has joined the board of directors of 10x Genomics, a FierceMedTech Fierce 15 winner. Also joining the board is Sri Kosaraju, chief financial officer and head of strategy at the medtech company Penumbra. Lee was the first woman to lead the USPTO and is an MIT-trained computer scientist.

> Tissue test developer CDx Diagnostics named Bill Huffnagle as CEO, while former chief and founder Mark Rutenberg will transition to the company’s newly created role of chief scientific officer. Huffnagle was most recently president of Stryker’s Joint Replacement Division. Release

> William Feehery was appointed CEO of drug development and regulatory science firm Certara, effective June 3. Since 2013, Feehery has been president of DuPont Industrial Biosciences. Release

> Novigenix has tapped Jan Groen to be CEO of the Swiss cancer diagnostic company. Groen was previously president and CEO of MDxHealth SA and served as co-founder of ViroClinics as well as the founder CEO of DxOrange. Release 

> SK Life Science has made several staff changes, in addition to increasing its headcount by 17% in the first quarter of this year. It promoted Jiyoung Jung to chief financial officer after holding various roles within the SK Group, and brought on Kenneth Olsen as general counsel and chief compliance officer. Olsen spent almost 20 years at Johnson & Johnson, and held positions at Olympus and BioMarin. SK also hired Stephanie Loiseau as associate director of CNS marketing, Shannon Levin as a corporate account director, Kevin Black as a government account director and Wanho Nam as head of corporate center. Release (PDF)

> Mundipharma selected Jerome Moreau to be head of market access. Moreau joins from GlaxoSmithKline, where he was director of global market access and pricing.

> Thermo Fisher Scientific has struck a €90 million deal to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s API manufacturing site in Cork, Ireland, and will take on the plant’s 400 employees as it continues its expansion into drug production. FiercePharmaManufacturing

> Bayer is investing $150 million to build a 40,000-square-foot cell culture facility at its Berkeley campus in California, which currently employs about 1,100 people. FierceBiotech