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Bayer nabs yet another oncology leader from GSK to bolster cancer efforts

April 24, 2022
Life sciences

For the second time this year, German drugmaker Bayer has nabbed an oncology leader from GlaxoSmithKline, appointing Tara Frenkl, M.D., to lead oncology development for its oncology strategic business unit.

Frenkl will step into her new role April 25 reporting directly to Christine Roth, a previous GSK transfer, now head of Bayer’s oncology strategic business unit for the pharmaceuticals division. Roth left her position leading GSK’s global oncology therapy area earlier this year, joining Bayer on March 1. She replaced Robert LaCaze, who left Bayer for an undisclosed destination.

Frenkl, the newest GSK recruit, had served as the company’s senior vice president and head of medicine development leaders in oncology. Before that, she worked across various roles at Merck for more than 13 years.

Known as a major player in the cardiovascular disease space, Bayer appears to be beefing up its foothold in oncology. GSK has been doing the same thing since 2019, when the company reestablished itself in the commercial cancer market with the acquisition of Tesaro, maker of PARP inhibitor Zejula.

Roth and Frenkl will likely focus efforts on Bayer’s prostate cancer med Nubeqa, for which the company has high hopes. The drug, approved in 2019 for men with non-metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, has experienced a slow launch thus far. The androgen receptor inhibitor has yet to make Bayer’s list of top 20 drugs, based on third quarter financial results.

Stiff competition from strong rivals such as Pfizer and Astellas’ Xtandi and J&J’s Erleada, in tandem with the ongoing pandemic, may point to why Nubeqa’s ramp up has been slow-moving. However, the drug could potentially expand its label soon into metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.

Bayer also sells the radiotherapy medicine Xofigo for prostate cancer and recently acquired Noria Therapeutics and subsidiary PSMA Therapeutics, gaining control of two investigational radiotherapies in prostate cancer.

By Gabrielle Masson


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