Bay Area Life Sciences Professionals Weigh In on Their Ideal Employers

San Francisco

BioSpace recently published their 2019 Life Sciences Ideal Employer Report, which  included survey responses from more than 2,700 life sciences professionals who picked their top three Ideal Employers and rated those biopharma companies on a variety of attributes. There were 899 companies mentioned in the report, which the authors narrowed down to the top 30 companies. The three most important criteria for life sciences professionals were interesting and meaningful work, competitive salary and health benefits. Not surprisingly, the companies at the top of the list scored well in all three of those categories.

The Ideal Employer Report also broke out the data into BioSpace Hotbed regions. Respondents who lived in the Biotech Bay area weighed in on who they thought was an Ideal Employer. Here's a look at the 2019 Life Sciences Ideal Employer Report’s Biotech Bay Top 10.

#1. Genentech. With headquarters in South San Francisco, Genentech is a wholly owned subsidiary of Switzerland-based Roche. Genentech tops not only Biotech Bay’s top company, but also is the #1 on the overall list. Genentech ranked 10th in  team dynamics, 12th in “diversity and leadership and was ranked #1 by millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. As of February 2019, the company employed 13,697 people.

On October 20, the company announced that the Phase III IMbrave150 study, evaluating its checkpoint inhibitor Tecentriq (atezolizumab) in combination with Avastin (bevacizumab) for treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients who haven’t had previous systemic therapy, met its co-primary endpoints, showing statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) compared to standard-of-care sorafenib.

#2. Gilead Sciences. Ranking #2 on the Biotech Bay list and #9 overall for Ideal Employers, Gilead’s global headquarters is in Foster City, California. The company hit #9 for “Interesting & Meaningful Work,” #8 for “Competitive Salary,” and #7 for “Health Benefits” and “Team Dynamics.” It hit #4 for “Opportunities for Promotion.”

On October 10, Gilead and Belgium-based Galapagos announced that Week 52 data from the Phase III FINCH 1 and FINCH 3 trials of filgotinib for moderately-to-severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were consistent with the data see in the Week 12 and 24 analyses. Filgotinib is an oral, selective JAK1 inhibitor. The drug is also being studied in psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

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#3. Roche. Roche, which is headquartered in Switzerland, ranked #3 on the San Francisco Ideal Employer list and #7 on the overall list. Roche’s sole presence in the San Francisco Bay Area is Genentech, which ranked #1 on the list. Roche ranked #7 for “Competitive Salary,” #14 for “Team Dynamics” and was ranked #7 by both millennials and Gen Xers and #13 by baby boomers.

On October 18, the FDA approved a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) for the treatment of acute, uncomplicated flu in people 12 years of age and older who have been symptomatic for no more than 48 hours and who are at high risk of developing flu-related complications. Xofluza was developed by y, Shionogi & Co. and is being developed and commercialized globally with the Roche Group, which includes Genentech, and Shionogi. Roche holds worldwide rights to Xofluza except Japan and Taiwan, which is retained by Shionogi.

#4. Amgen. Hitting #4 on the Biotech Bay list and the overall list, Amgen’s global headquarters are in Thousand Oaks, California. Amgen was ranked #3 by millennials, #5 by Gen Xers, and #4 by baby boomers. As of July 2019, the company employed 21,000 people.

On October 18, the FDA approved the company’s Nplate (romiplostim) for a broader group of patients to include newly diagnosed and persistent adult immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) patients who have an insufficient response to corticosteroids, immunoglobulins or splenectomy. ITP is a rare, serious autoimmune disease marked by low platelet counts.

#5. BioMarin. BioMarin came in #24 on the overall list and #5 on the Biotech Bay list. The company ranked #7 on “Interesting & Meaningful Work” and #1 on “Health Benefits.” It also ranked #8 for “Opportunities for Promotion.” The company’s headquarters are in San Rafael.

BioMarin released its third-quarter results on October 23. Total revenues for the third quarter were $461.1 million, up 18% from the same quarter the previous year. The sales were driven by an increase in Vimizim revenue, with grew 33%, primarily by government orders in certain Middle Eastern countries, a large order from Brazil and smaller order from other Latin American countries. Vimizim is a treatment for rare disease Morquio syndrome. The company’s Palynziq, for phenylketonuria, also launched in the fourth quarter of 2018, with revenues for the quarter hitting $20 million.

#6. Verily Life Sciences. Verily Life Sciences ranked #6 on the Biotech Bay list and #19 on the overall list. Verily ranked #8 for “Interesting & Meaningful Work,” #4 for “Competitive Salary” and #9 for “Team Dynamics.” The report notes that, “Interest in Verily is conversely related to age. Millennial life sciences professionals put the company at #10 on their Ideal Employer list; whereas Verily didn’t place in the top 15 for either Gen Xers or baby boomers.”

Most recently, on October 24, Verily announced partnerships with the Veterans Administration Palo Alto Healthcare System (VAPAHCS) and Atrius Health. They will evaluate and deploy new tools and interventions with the goal of optimizing health care delivery. As is typical with Verily, no specifics about what the tools and interventions actually are or do were disclosed.

#7. Merck. Merck & Co., which is known as Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) outside the United States, not to be confused with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey. Merck Research Laboratories (MRL), the research arm of Merck, is located in South San Francisco. Construction began in 2017 of the MRL’s nine-story, multi-disciplinary discovery research facility, and has started hiring at its interim location. The company ranked #7 on the Biotech Bay list and #3 on the overall list. It ranked #11 on “Diversity in Leadership,” and was ranked #5 by millennials, #4 by Gen Xers, and #2 by baby boomers.

In terms of its checkpoint inhibitor, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), not a week goes by when there doesn’t seem to be new approvals or reports. On October 18, for example, the European Medicines Agency (EMA)’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) recommended approval for two regimens of Keytruda for first-line treatment of metastatic or unresectable recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Keytruda as a monotherapy or in combination with platinum and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is recommended in patients with PD-L1 expressing tumors.

#8. Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson ranked #8 on the Biotech Bay list and #6 on the overall list. Headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Johnson & Johnson has its J&J Innovation Center in South San Francisco. J&J was ranked #6 by women and by men, hit #10 in “Diversity in Leadership,” and #6 by millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. The West North America Innovation Center in South San Francisco is a regional hub for collaborations throughout the Western region of North America, both U.S. and Canada, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

On October 21, Janssen, a J&J company, announced its Stelara was approved by the FDA for moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis. The approval was based on the Phase III UNIFI study that demonstrated after eight weeks of receiving a single IV dose of Stelara (ustekinumab), patients saw “clinical remission in a significantly greater proportion of UC patients.”

#9. Pfizer. Although Pfizer’s headquarters are in New York City, its California Cancer Immunology Discovery Unit is headquartered in South San Francisco. Pfizer ranked #2 on the Ideal Employer overall survey list and #9 on the Biotech Bay. It was ranked #2 by both men and women. It hit #6 in “Diversity in Leadership” and #10 for “Opportunities for Promotion.” Millennials ranked it #2, Gen Xers ranked it #3, as did baby boomers.

The Cancer Immunology Discovery (CID) in South San Francisco focuses on large molecule immunotherapeutics that promote anti-tumor activity or counter immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment. On September 30, the company provided interim analysis of its Phase III BEACON colorectal cancer trial of Braftovi (encorafenib), Mektovi (binimetinib) and cetuximab (Braftovi Triplet) in advanced BRAFV600B-mutant metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) after one or two lines of therapy. The data showed significant improvements in overall survival (OS) and objective response rates (ORR).

#10. Novartis. Novartis is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, but has a significant presence in San Carlos (Novartis Pharmaceuticals) and Emeryville (Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research). The Emeryville campus focuses on R&D for infectious disease research, as well as structural and biophysical chemistry, computer-aided drug design and protein engineering across various disease areas. The San Carlos site is home to both a Technical Research and Development site and a Pharmaceutical Operations commercial manufacturing site, which combined, employ more than 250 people.

Novartis ranked #5 on the Ideal Employer overall survey list and #10 on the Biotech Bay list, hitting #4 among millennials, #2 among Gen Xers, and #7 among baby boomers.

The company released its quarterly report on October 22, noting that its core operating income grew 18% and its Innovative Medicines core margin improved to 34.1% of sales. Significant milestones included an October U.S. launch of Beovu (brolucizumab) for neovascular (wet) AMD; Ofatumumab for RMS hit clinical endpoints in two pivotal Phase III trials with rolling regulatory submissions planned to start in the fourth quarter; Cosentyx met primary endpoints in nr-axSPA in the PREVENT trial, with regulatory submissions to the FDA and EMA planned for the fourth quarter, and more.

These 10 companies are, of course, not the only great life sciences companies that Bay area professionals want to work at. There are more than 3,400 life science companies in the state, with slightly less than half categorized as biotech and pharma companies. But when it comes to Ideal Employers for Bay area life sciences professionals, these ones top the list.  

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