Bristol-Myers Squibb is locked in some pretty big marketing battles—but it’ll have to soldier on without its commercial leader.
On Monday, the New Jersey drugmaker said EVP and Chief Commercial Officer Murdo Gordon would leave the company in early August for another job. As for a successor, the company said only that “the announcement of a new chief commercial officer will be the subject of a separate communication at a later date.”
Gordon has been with the drugmaker for decades, starting first with its Canada branch in 1989 before jumping over to the U.S. in 2003. Since then, he’s held a number of sales and marketing jobs, including SVP of U.S. oncology, U.S. president and head of worldwide markets. Gordon stepped into the commercial chief role in July 2016.
Since then, the company has turned Eliquis—a med it shares with Pfizer—into a key revenue contributor and the leader in its class of next-generation anticoagulants. It’s also launched immuno-oncology star Opdivo in a number of markets, including liver cancer and kidney cancer.
Opdivo’s most important launch still lies ahead, though. The company is waiting for its first go-ahead in previously untreated lung cancer patients, an unparalleled market in terms of revenue opportunity for the lineup of PD-1/PD-L1 cancer treatments. Right now, BMS is waiting as the FDA reviews its application for a combination of Opdivo and fellow immunotherapy Yervoy in that field.
If Bristol can pick up a nod, though, it’ll be playing from behind, as archrival Keytruda from Merck already bears a chemo-combo OK that’s helped it build out a lead. And catching up will be difficult thanks to BMS’ biomarker-segmented data; while the combo has shown it’s effective in patients with high levels of tumor mutational burden, convincing doctors to screen for the new biomarker prove to be a challenge.
News of Gordon’s departure also follows a lackluster first-quarter sales announcement, which showed the company’s HIV and hepatitis C meds had declined across the board. BMS is scheduled to report second-quarter sales later this week.