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Emergency Alexion chief says he's '120% committed' to righting the ship

December 15, 2016
Life sciences

It’s unclear how long interim Alexion CEO David Brennan will stay in that post, which he assumed Monday amid a management housecleaning. But while he does hold it, he’s got one key goal in mind.

“We need to move on,” from the accounting questions and sales probe that have plagued the company since November, Brennan told Forbes’ Matthew Herper. Last month, a former employee claimed the biotech had engaged in sales fraud with its lead med, Soliris.

Alexion delayed its quarterly SEC filing at the time and has since been conducting its own investigation into the claims.

Alexion may have started that moving-on process with a pair of exec changes Monday, when it announced that CEO David Hallal and CFO Vikas Sinha would be replaced by Brennan, a former AstraZeneca CEO, and new CFO David Anderson.

Alexion’s directors reportedly lost confidence in the departed pair, though company execs “seemed to suggest that the executive changes and the board investigation and 10-Q delay were independent events,” Leerink Partners analyst Geoffrey Porges wrote in a note to clients.

“This seems unlikely to us,” he added.

RBC Capital Markets’ Simos Simeonidis agrees. As he pointed out in a press release last month, the company said it hadn’t “identified instances where Soliris orders were not placed by customers for patients”—language that was missing from Monday’s release. “We believe that the omission … may point to what could be behind yesterday’s management changes,” he wrote in his own research note.

Regardless, the way Brennan sees it, the company is on the right path—at least with its 10-Q, which it now says it intends to file by January. “I think the 10-Q will be one bookend on this investigation and it may lead to some assessment of how we need to do things,” he said. “I consider the 10-Q to be a milestone in this.”

And he’s willing to stay on as long as it takes to right the ship. “I am not constrained in any way from a timing perspective for how long I will do this,” the ex-Big Pharma chief told Herper. “I am committed 120%. I don’t have parameters around a time frame.”

Alexion, though—which has established a CEO search committee that includes Brennan and exec search firm Spencer Stuart—suggested Brennan’s role won’t become a permanent one. “David is … committed to a successful transition once a new CEO is appointed,” a spokeswoman for the Connecticut drugmaker said in an emailed statement.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

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