Former Sanofi Exec and Viehbacher Protoge to Join Alnylam as Senior VP
Published: Jun 09, 2015
June 8, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
Cambridge, Mass.-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced today that former Sanofi chief strategy officer and executive vice president, David-Alexandre “DA” Gros, will join the company as senior vice president and chief business officer.
At Sanofi, Gros’s duties included overseeing the French company’s partnerships. Notably, in the context of Gros moving to Alnylam, he was in charge of a strategic partnership between Sanofi’s rare division unit, Genzyme Corporation, and Alnylam. Genzyme acquired 12 percent of Alnylam by buying $700 million of Alnylam’s stock at $80 per share, which at the time was about a 21 percent premium based on Alnylam’s existing stock price of $66.21 at the time.
Genzyme received more rights to patisiran, Alnylam’s RNAi drug. Prior to the 2014 deal, Genzyme held Asian rights to the drug signed in 2012. Last year’s extension included North American and Western European rights. The deal also called for the two companies to co-develop and, if it got that far, to co-sell ALN-TTRsc, an injectable form of patisiran. Patisiran is being developed for the treatment of familial amyloid cardiomyopathy (FAC), which can lead to heart damage.
Gross was hired at Sanofi by former chief executive officer Chris Viehbacher in 2011. Viehbacher was fired by the Sanofi board in October 2014 after apparent clashes over strategy. Although Viehbacher’s tenure was marked by a doubling of share prices in a six-year period and the acquisition of Genzyme, his controversial plan to sell off the company’s portfolio of mature drugs worth about $7.9 billion dollars was met by hostility by the board. There were also rumors that Viehbacher, who was the first non-French CEO of Sanofi, may have had a culture clash with the board as well, exacerbated by his move to Boston for family reasons.
Gross resigned from Sanofi in early May 2015. At Alnylam he will oversee corporate and business development, finance, corporate communications and functions related to investor relations. He will also join the company’s management board.
“We are in a very exciting period of growth at Alnylam, as we aim to execute on our ‘Alnylam 2020’ goals and transition from a late-stage clinical development company to become a multi-product, commercial stage company with a sustainable development pipeline,” said John Maraganore, Alnylam’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “DA brings to Alnylam an impressive array of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and in healthcare investment banking and management consulting. In addition, his background in corporate strategy will prove invaluable as we execute on our Alnylam 2020 goals. We’re thrilled to have him join our team.”
Prior to Sanofi, Gros was a trustee and director of the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance, a principal in healthcare investment banking with Centerview Partners, and vice president of healthcare investment banking at Merrill Lynch. He is also a physician who performed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, graduated from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and received an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Alnylam did not respond to a request for an interview in time for deadline.
When Will Pfizer's Breakup Happen?
Speculation that the revamping of Pfizer Inc. ’s internal business structure could happen as soon as this year has biotech wondering just when this Big Pharma company could see changes.
Last week an analyst with J.P. Morgan said he thinks there will be a much faster timeline than most of Wall Street had predicted for Pfizer’s stated mission to refocus its efforts on new medicines.
Pfizer initially announced in 2012 that it would be shedding units that were non-essential to that goal. It then promptly sold its nutrition silo to Nestle for $11.85 billion, which was rapidly accompanied by a public spin-off of its animal health business for $2.2 billion.
“While a Pfizer break-up would likely be a 2017 event, we see potential catalysts in 2015-2016," said Chris Schott, an analyst at J.P. Morgan. "Three years of audited financial statements (2014-2016) are required before any part of Pfizer can be spun off, and we also see 2017 as an attractive time for action as investors see Pfizer’s innovative pipeline clearly contributing to growth and the established business having transitioned to a more stable profile."
BioSpace wants to know what you think: Will Pfizer be a changed company by the end of 2015?