Bristol-Myers Squibb surprised industry watchers earlier this week with news that its commercial head Murdo Gordon was hitting the road after decades with the drugmaker. Now they know where he’s going.
Late Thursday, Amgen said Gordon would step in to replace its own commercial chief, Tony Hooper, who will retire from the role in September. Hooper will be staying on at the California drugmaker “for a period of time to facilitate the transition to Gordon,” Amgen said.
News of Gordon’s transition raised eyebrows Monday, and analysts speculated about where he could be headed. “We assume it will be a CEO role at a smaller biopharma company, perhaps one focused on oncology or thrombosis, since those are therapeutic areas where he has helped lead BMY to great success in recent years,” Credit Suisse’s Vamil Divan wrote earlier this week.
Gordon’s departure will leave a major challenge to his successor—Opdivo is waiting for word from the FDA on its fate in previously untreated lung cancer, an area in which BMS will have to convince doctors to routinely test for new biomarker TMB if it wants to be successful. Gordon, however, will have plenty of new challenges of his own to face at Amgen.
Payers have erected hurdles preventing the Big Biotech from securing coverage for key new migraine rollout Aimovig. And with plenty of biosimilar competition on the way, the company could use bigger turnouts from drugs such as multiple myeloma therapy Kyprolis and PCSK9 contender Repatha, two products that have underperformed in recent years.
RELATED: Will payers support Amgen’s ‘bolus’ of eager Aimovig patients in time to fend off migraine rivals?
Meanwhile, Hooper isn’t the only exec moving toward the exit. R&D Chief Sean Harper, M.D., will also be retiring after 16 years with the Big Biotech, Amgen said. He plans to “pursue opportunities in the early-stage biotechnology community.” In the meantime, he’ll be replaced by David Reese, M.D., whose current role is SVP of translational sciences and oncology.
Amgen is the second big biotech in two days to announce that two of its top execs are heading out the door. Late Wednesday, Gilead said both Chairman and former chief exec John C. Martin, Ph.D., and current CEO John Milligan, Ph.D., would vacate their positions.
“Investors may or may not be puzzled by all the recent changes going on in the industry,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee wrote to clients Thursday.