Gilead Exec Takes Over Helm of New Glenmark Innovation Business

Man in suit jumping from one rock to another

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals new innovation business has its chief executive officer. Alessandro Riva, head of oncology therapeutics and cell therapy at Gilead Sciences, Inc. will take over the reins of the new innovation company as its CEO on April 2. Riva is the first named executive of the new company.

In February, Mumbai-based Glenmark announced plans to spin off its innovation business into a standalone company based in Paramus, N.J. Although the details of the spinoff have yet to be fully announced, the new U.S.-based company will focus on core areas of immunology, oncology and pain management. The new company will launch with eight assets, including five clinical and three pre-clinical therapies. Additionally, the new company will have R&D centers in Switzerland and New Jersey, as well as a manufacturing and technology infrastructure, the company said at the time.

Now, the new innovation company has its CEO. The innovation business will include a management team and an independent board of directors.

Glenn Saldanha, chairman and managing director of Glenmark, touted Riva’s experience and said he will be a strong leader for the new company.

“His extensive and diverse industry experience leading global R&D will no doubt be invaluable in driving our pipeline towards commercialization. We are excited for this major step as a company and are confident Alessandro's talent and leadership will shape the innovation business into a major global biotech company,” Saldanha said in a statement.

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Riva has been with Gilead since 2017. He joined the company as area head of hematology and oncology therapeutics. During his two-year stint with the company, Riva played a role in expanding Gilead’s oncology programs, as well as in helping with the acquisition of Kite Pharma. Riva also had a strong hand in guiding the strategy and development of Gilead’s broader oncology pipeline. Prior to joining Gilead, Riva spent 12 years at Novartis where he was the head of global oncology development and medical affairs in the oncology business unit of the Swiss pharma giant. He also served as interim president of the Novartis Oncology Business Unit during the acquisition of GlaxoSmithKline’s oncology assets. Prior to his time at Novartis, Riva held leadership roles with Rhône-Poulenc Rorer and Aventis, France.

“I'm excited to join a company so committed to driving business through entrepreneurial innovation. The novel technology and diverse pipeline, which includes clinical-stage candidates on track to progress rapidly, has the potential to differentiate in areas of unmet need,” Riva said in a statement. “I'm looking forward to bringing my experience to lead the company and work together with highly experienced teams to deliver first-in-class therapies to the patients who need them the most.”

The new innovation company pipeline includes three immuno-oncology bispecific antibodies developed through Glenmark's proprietary BEAT platform, which will be used to enhance the pipeline. Of the five clinical and three pre-clinical assets in development, two clinical assets are currently in Phase IIb, and one asset is expected to enter Phase IIb in 2020.

John McHutchison, Gilead’s chief scientific officer and head of research and development, said Riva’s guidance allowed Gilead to expand its work in oncology and establish itself as a leader in cell therapy due to the acquisition of Kite.

“We are well-positioned to continue to grow, and I am confident in the ability of Gilead and Kite to advance our pipeline of novel therapeutics for people living with cancer,” McHutchison said of Gilead’s future without Riva.

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