Former Portola CEO Takes the Helm at T-Cell Cancer Therapy Company

CEO Spelled on Blocks

Scott Garland, the former chief executive officer of Portola Pharmaceuticals, will become the next CEO of South San Francisco-based PACT Pharma.

Garland succeeds Alex Franzusoff, who will remain with the company in an advisory role through mid-year. Franzusoff will assist Garland as he takes the reins of the company fused on the development of tumor-specific T cell therapies for the treatment of patients with solid tumors.

Garland joins PACT after serving as CEO of Portola Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Alexion last year for $1.4 billion. At Portola, Garland led the company through the commercial launch of Andexxa, a novel reversal agent for factor Xa inhibitors.

Andexxa, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018 and is currently the only approved Factor Xa inhibitor reversal agent. It has demonstrated transformative clinical value by rapidly reversing the anticoagulant effects of Factor Xa inhibitors rivaroxaban and apixaban in severe and uncontrolled bleeding.

In a brief statement, Garland said he is honored to join PACT as its next CEO. The company is at an important moment in its history, he said. PACT is developing tumor-mutation targeted T Cells tailored for each patient. Tumor mutation neoepitope (neoE) targeting is programmed into the patient's own T cells to seek out & kill the tumors. 

“PACT is well positioned to be a leader in developing personalized anti-cancer T cell therapies against solid tumors. I appreciate the work that Alex has done to build PACT into a clinical-stage biotechnology company and I am delighted at the opportunity to help the company in its efforts to advance cell therapies to benefit patients with solid tumors,” Garland said in a statement.

Prior to Portola, Garland held leadership roles at multiple pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. At Relypsa, he first served as chief commercial officer, then as president overseeing the U.S. commercial launch of Veltassa for the treatment of hyperkalemia. Prior to Relypsa, Garland spent three years as chief commercial officer at Exelixis where he built the company's commercial organization, to support the launch of cabozantinib in medullary thyroid cancer. He also spent nine years at Genentech, where he led the commercial franchises for two multi-billion dollar therapies, Avastin and Rituxan.

Blake Byers, chairman of the PACT Pharma Board of Directors, said the company is working to rapidly bring its personalized adoptive T cell therapies to patients in need. Its lead T-cell therapy, NeoTCR-PI, is in Phase I studies for bladder, breast, colorectal, head/neck, lung, melanoma, ovarian and prostate cancers as both a monotherapy and in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor.

“As the company's pipeline progresses, we are committed to adding key competencies to our longstanding strengths in research and development, and Scott's experience leading the commercial launches of multiple novel therapies will be important for PACT,” Byers said in a statement.

Byers also thanked the outgoing Franzusoff for his contributions to the company as CEO over the past four years. Particularly, Byers credited Franzusoff with helping transition PACT into a clinical-stage company.

“I am very proud of the landmark achievements and progress that the PACT team has made over the past four years in advancing our personalized adoptive T cell therapies, including launching our current clinical program across multiple solid tumor types,” Franzusoff said in a statement. “I am confident that the company is in excellent hands under Scott's leadership.”

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