Bayer Strategy Head Expected to be Named CEO Next Week
Published: Feb 22, 2016
February 19, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
LEVERKUSEN, Germany -- Werner Baumann, Bayer AG ’s head of strategy, is expected to be named the company’s new chief executive officer-designate next week, Reuters reported this morning, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
Baumann is expected to succeed Marijn Dekkers to helm the company when the current CEO steps down. The decision could be announced Feb. 25, when the company is expected to announce its full-year financial results, Reuters said. If the appointment does go through, Baumann is expected to take over the company in 2017 from Dekkers, who is expected to step down from his position at the end of the year.
Baumann was instrumental in Bayer AG’s acquisition of Schering in 2006. If he is named as the company’s next leader, industry analysts have predicted he will guide the company through an acquisition of some life sciences company to strengthen its position in crop and animal sciences, Reuters said.
Baumann will also take over a Bayer that was recently transformed into three separate life sciences divisions focusing on life sciences—Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Health and Crop Science. Under the newly approved restructuring, starting on Jan. 1, 2016, the three divisions will become an integrated organization under the Bayer brand.
Following the transformation, Bayer announced it will strengthen its oncology pipeline in order to carve out a bigger share of the $100 billion global market for such treatments. The Germany-based company is looking to launch five oncology treatments within the next few years. In its developmental pipeline, Bayer has multiple products, including treatments that marry radiation and biologics. Currently, Bayer has 17 oncology therapies in development, including ODM-201 which will be used to treat prostate cancer and copanlisib for the treatment of indolent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Additionally, Bayer has Xofigo for the treatment of patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer, symptomatic bone metastases and no known visceral metastatic disease. Bayer acquired Xofigo in 2014 when it purchased Norway-based Algeta ASA for $2.9 billion. That acquisition also brought the experimental radiation technology called thorium-227 under Bayer’s umbrella. One way Bayer is advancing its pipeline is to look at combination therapies of immune treatments and radiation. The company expects that to be possible through thorium-227. Bayer believes thorium-227 will make it possible for radiation therapy to be linked with a monoclonal antibody that will help stimulate the body’s own immune system to respond to therapy.
To develop its oncology pipeline, Bayer is planning on ramping up its investments into research and development. Last year the company spent $2 billion on R&D. In contrast, Roche spent $8.5 billion on drug R&D. Additionally, Bayer is working with other companies to develop therapies, including Israel-based Compugen Ltd. The two companies are collaborating on antibody-based cancer therapeutics against two novel Compugen-discovered immune checkpoint regulators, CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022.
Increased oncology R&D will place Bayer in competition with numerous pharmaceutical companies pursuing treatments for a wide variety of cancers and drugs that are establishing themselves as blockbuster treatments, such as Merck ’s Keytruda, which has shown to be effective in treating patients with three types of cancer, melanoma, lung cancer and mesothelioma.