Allergan taps Pfizer oncology veteran as CMO for some crucial pipeline help

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Allergan's new CMO, Charles Hugh-Jones, will report to R&D chief David Nicholson. (Allergan)

As Allergan enters a key phase for late-stage products crucial to its turnaround, it's poached a Pfizer veteran to help bring its plans to fruition.

The Dublin drugmaker has brought on Charles Hugh-Jones, the chief medical officer at Pfizer's oncology unit, to serve as its new senior vice president and chief medical officer, it said Monday. He’ll start his new gig this month and report to Allergan R&D head David Nicholson.

“Allergan is in a position to launch a number of important new products over the next couple of years. Charles will play a critical role in supporting the safe, effective and proper use of these innovative treatments among patients and their physicians,” Nicholson said in a statement.

RELATED: What's next for embattled Allergan? Depends on pipeline performance, analysts say

The move cuts short a Pfizer stint that began just 16 months ago. Before that, Hugh-Jones spent six years at Sanofi in various roles including North American chief medical officer and head of medical affairs for U.S. oncology.

Hugh-Jones won’t be putting that oncology expertise to use at his new employer, though. Allergan focuses on other therapeutic areas, including aesthetics and central nervous system conditions, and some of its most closely watched pipeline candidates include two migraine therapeutics and a depression treatment, rapastinel.

Hugh-Jones' role will be a crucial one, as it's high stakes for Allergan's pipeline right now. The drugmaker's shares have been suffering for months, and some analysts believe it's up to the company's pipeline to turn things around.

And if they can't? Allergan’s R&D ranks could see some additional personnel changes down the line, Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan predicted earlier this year. “Continued challenges with the pipeline could lead to further pressure to change the company's R&D leadership,” he wrote in a note to clients.

RELATED: Novartis poaches Pfizer veteran Liz Barrett to lead cancer unit—and its big Kymriah and Kisqali rollouts

Meanwhile, Hugh-Jones is the second big exec loss for Pfizer Oncology this year. In January, the New York pharma giant saw its global president and general manager of the unit, Liz Barrett, depart to take up the reins as CEO of Novartis Oncology.

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