After pivot, Agios names Alexion vet Goff its next CEO as Fouse transitions to board chair

After Agios' big pivot away from oncology back in 2020 and its first-in-class drug approval earlier this year, the drugmaker is gearing up for more changes.

In a move unveiled Tuesday afternoon, Agios CEO Jackie Fouse, Ph.D., said she plans to transition to become the company's board chair, making way for Brian Goff to become the drugmaker's next CEO. Goff, a 30-year biopharma veteran, joins Agios from Alexion, where he was chief commercial and global operations officer. Last year, Alexion sold to AstraZeneca for $39 billion. 

Before his time at Alexion, Goff had served at Baxalta, Baxter, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson and Neurovance. He becomes Agios' next CEO Aug. 8.

As for Fouse, she's stepping down from the Agios CEO post after an eventful three-plus years as the company's CEO. After becoming the drugmaker's chief exec in February 2019, she inked a deal to sell the company's oncology business to France's Servier for $1.8 billion in December 2020.

At the time, Fouse said in a statement the decision was a result of a strategic review and "reflects the progress we have made understanding and harnessing the science and promise of PK activation."

Agios has remained busy since then. Its first-in-class oral pyruvate kinase activator, Pyrukynd, won FDA approval back in February to treat hemolytic anemia in adults with PK deficiency. 

The inherited disease causes lifelong complications including gallstones, pulmonary hypertension, osteoporosis and more. Before the FDA approval, the only options for treatment were red blood cell transfusions or spleen removal surgery, Agios said, which both come with risks and burdens.

Pyrukynd is only the first step in Agios' next chapter as the company plans to dive deeper into the field of genetically defined diseases.

“The time is right to evolve our leadership and deepen our genetically defined disease skill set to further drive our ability to develop life-changing treatments," Fouse said in a Tuesday statement. "Brian’s strong track record of leading rare disease product launches to drive their impact for patients, building and scaling companies’ rare disease capabilities and leading high-performing, diverse teams with strong cultures make him the right next leader for Agios."

In a note to clients late Tuesday, SVB Securities analysts wrote that Goff is a "good strategic fit" for Agios based on his prior roles and track record. Still, since Fouse was "viewed favorably by many investors," the change could bring "volatility" for the company's shares, the SVB team wrote.

Before selling its cancer portfolio to Servier, Agios had marketed Tibsovo and Idhifa, two targeted medicines for acute myeloid leukemia.