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As Celgene becomes BMS, its I&I lead lands CEO job at Takeda spinoff

September 30, 2019
Life sciences

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As Celgene gradually phases into parent company Bristol-Myers Squibb, this is leaving little room at the inn for some of the top execs.

Terrie Curran, president of global inflammation and immunology at Celgene, is one such leader looking for pastures new amid the acquisition: Now, she has found her home at Phathom Pharmaceuticals. (Well, she will as soon as the BMS deal officially closes.)

Curran, who has been at the Big Biotech for more than six years (and served former stints at Lundbeck and Merck) takes over the chief job from David Socks “as part of a planned transition”; Socks stays on until she arrives. Socks will also become interim chief financial officer and continue on as a board member.

The company is working on gastrointestinal drugs, with vonoprazan its focus. This drug is designed to block stomach acids and treat gastroesophageal reflux disease and marketed to be a better option than proton pump inhibitor therapy on its own, which can in a large minority of people fail to help with gastroesophageal reflux disease.

It’s already approved in a number of Asian markets, including Japan, but remains unapproved in the more lucrative European and U.S. markets. Phase 3 tests to try to ease its way into the markets are slated for later this year.

Phathom has an interesting creation story, and itself came out of a pharma-Big Biotech M&A deal, namely Takeda and Shire’s. When the Japanese pharma bought out the U.S.-Ireland biotech, it wanted to lighten its R&D load a little, so teamed up with Frazier Healthcare to create Phathom and get vonoprazan over the finishing line outside of Asia.

The startup was this year given $90 million in a funding round along with a $50 million credit line. Takeda and Otsuka hold on to the drug’s Japanese and other Asian rights, but is leaving Phathom to get it approved in the U.S. and Europe.

Tachi Yamada, M.D., chairman of Phathom, said: “We are thrilled that Terrie will be joining Phathom as CEO. She is a widely respected biopharmaceutical leader with an impressive track record of building organizations and commercializing novel therapeutics, including the launch and global growth of [immunology drug] Otezla.”

“Phathom is well positioned with vonoprazan, a late-stage GI therapeutic, that has achieved clinical and commercial success in Japan,” added Curran. “I am excited to be joining as CEO at such an important time for the company as vonoprazan advances into phase 3 studies later this year.”

By Ben Adams

Source: Fierce Biotech

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