CSL Behring poaches top manufacturing executive from struggling Biogen

CSL Behring has a new chief operating officer to oversee its extensive drug and plasma manufacturing, supply chain and logistics. (CSL Behring)

When Biogen recently announced its top dog for manufacturing and supply chain operations was leaving to become chief operating officer for another company, the question was, which one? The question has now been answered with the announcement that Paul McKenzie has taken that post at CSL Behring, the drug and plasma unit of Australia's CSL Ltd.

McKenzie, 53, who will be located in the company’s operational headquarters in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, will develop strategy and oversee the global supply chain for CSL Behring, the company said, including it extensive network of plasma collection centers.

“Throughout his 30-year career, Paul has earned a reputation as a patient-focused business leader—an important attribute as we continue to invest in our science, facilities and commercial capabilities for delivering better outcomes to patients and protecting public health."

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Biogen announced McKenzie’s departure in an 8-K several weeks ago. It comes as Biogen has reeled from the spectacular flop of its closely watched Alzheimer’s disease candidate, aducanumab, which wiped out 30% of its market share and forced the executive team to make mea culpas to shareholders. The company has just added three new board members to ease tension with investors.  

As for CSL, it saw its share price rise 30% in 2018, helped in part by Haegarda for treating hereditary angioedema, and Idelvion, a factor IX hemophilia B treatment. Haegarda grabbed almost half of the market when it launched in 2017 as competitor Shire dealt with manufacturing challenges for Cinryze. Last year, however, Shire launched Takhzyro, which has a more convenient dosing schedule than Haegarda, leading analysts to believe it will dominate the market.   

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McKenzie also takes over as CSL has added production for the U.S. and European markets. In late 2017, it opened the first phase of a $170 million plasma products plant that will add about 100 tons of albumin production at its CSL Behring site in Broadmeadows, Australia. A second phase will follow, which when complete will double that capacity.

McKenzie joined Biogen in 2016 as executive vice president of pharmaceutical operations and technology after holding several top positions in R&D and manufacturing at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen pharma unit and its devices operation Ethicon.