Celgene’s COO Resigns as Company Shakes up Leadership Structure


Scott Smith, Celgene’s chief operating officer, abruptly resigned Monday. His decision to leave appears to be prompted by a restructuring of the company’s executive team.

Smith served in the role of COO for about a year. He had been with the company since 2008 and held several senior leadership roles during his time. Smith’s primary responsibilities as COO will be conducted by Chief Executive Officer Mark J. Alles, the company announced.

"Scott has made significant contributions to Celgene, most notably building our Inflammation and Immunology franchise, including the global launch of Otezla. We thank Scott for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Alles said in a brief statement.

Celgene’s change in leadership structure will see Alles taking on more duties, the company said. In addition to his duties as CEO and COO, Alles will “be responsible for strategic leadership of Celgene's global Hematology and Oncology franchise, global Inflammation and Immunology franchise, manufacturing, regulatory, and clinical development,” the company said.

As part of the restructuring Celgene said Nadim Ahmed, president of Global Hematology and Oncology; Terrie Curran, president of Global Inflammation and Immunology; Jay Backstrom, Celgene’s chief medical officer and head of Global Regulatory Affairs; and Joanne Beck, executive vice president of Global Pharmaceutical Development and Operations, will all report to Alles.

Celgene has a strong reputation as a biotech partner. The company has struck numerous developmental deals with other companies over the years, including recent deals with Prothena Therapeutics and a developmental deal with Vividion Therapeutics. Additionally, the company has also flexed its M&A muscle this year with a $9 billion deal to acquire CAR-T developer Juno Therapeutics and a $7 billion deal for Impact Biomedicines and its JAK inhibitor program targeting myelofibrosis.

While those partnerships and M&A moves can drive a company, they can also cause some problems. In October 2017 Celgene reported multiple missteps. The company scrapped a late-stage Crohn’s disease drug and two trials associated with it. The move caused a drop in Celgene’s share prices. Later that month Celgene slashed its 2020 guidance, citing “certain market dynamics and recent pipeline events.” That led to some speculation that Celgene was ripe for a takeover, with some analysts eying Pfizer to make a potential move. More recently Celgene was stunned when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a Refusal to File letter regarding the company’s New Drug Application (NDA) for multiple sclerosis treatment ozanimod. Celgene had been looking at ozanimod as a potential blockbuster drug that could become a key revenue driver for the company alongside multiple myeloma drug Revlimid.

Shares of Celgene are down more than 2 percent to $84.96 as of 10:31 a.m.  

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