Moderna poaches yet another Merck exec in Chantal Friebertshäuser as it looks to boost its commercial team

For the longest time, Moderna was an early-stage biotech with much promise but a long path to market.

The advent of COVID-19 in 2020, however, changed all that, pole-vaulting the company into the limelight with its mRNA technology and later the swift authorization and then approval of its first-ever asset in the COVID-19 vaccine Spikevax.

The biopharma does not want to stop there. It sees a larger commercial life not just in COVID-19 shots but beyond. With a deep pipeline in infectious diseases and cancer and a slew of Big Pharma pacts, it has the shots on goal for a commercial future.

For that future, however, it needs commercial expertise, and this year it’s been filling out those roles­—and it seems Merck & Co. has been its favorite place to shop for the people with those skills.

Back in April, Moderna poached Arpa Garay from her role as Merck’s long-term portfolio strategy and global marketing lead to become Moderna’s new chief commercial officer.

Now, Moderna is tapping its second Merck executive this year as it nabs Chantal Friebertshäuser as its new senior vice president of commercial. She comes from Merck’s German base, known as MSD in Europe, where she was human health senior vice president and managing director.

In her new role at Moderna, and serving under Garay, she will specifically be responsible for the commercial efforts of the biopharma in Europe, the Middle East and Canada. She starts New Year’s Day.

“Chantal has extensive experience in leading global teams and scaling commercial organizations regionally,” said Garay in a press release.

“Her insights, drive and commitment to patients will be instrumental as we enter new markets and advance our platform-based approach to medicine. Having worked with her previously, I know first-hand that she will be a terrific addition to the organization.”

Moderna started its marketing campaigns in earnest this year and for the first time in its history with an approved medicine. This saw it launch its first DTC ads, including in the fall its 15-second spot “Get Boosted this Fall,” as it looks to plug its new booster shots.

Back in August, it also tapped tennis legend Billie Jean King as a new spokesperson for the company, coming off the back of its U.S. Open sponsorship.

Getting its booster shots out into the market will remain the top commercial priority for Moderna this year and next, but it also has several flu and RSV vaccines in the later stages of clinical testing, which could become the next batch of commercial assets for Garay and Friebertshäuser to get their hands on.