2 Celgene Execs Jump Ship to Lead Immunomedics

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Immunomedics announced that former Celgene president Michael Pehl will take over as president and chief executive officer effective Dec. 7, 2017. In addition, Brendan Delaney was appointed chief commercial officer, effective Nov. 10, 2017.

Pehl was with Celgene for 11 years, most recently as president, Hematology & Oncology. Before that he worked as head of Global Marketing, head of Hematology Europe and the first General Manager of Celgene in Germany. He was involved in the launch of multiple hematology and oncology drugs, including Revlimid, Pomalyst, and Abraxane.

“Today’s announcement represents the culmination of an intensely thorough but ultimately extremely rewarding search process for the right leader to guide the next phase in the transformation of Immunomedics,” said Behzad Aghazadeh, Immunomedics’ chairman of the board, in a statement. “As we undertook this task, the Board and I were focused on finding a best-in-class talent with a proven ability to successfully navigate the approval and commercialization of groundbreaking drugs in the oncology space, which we are confident IMMU-132 and other products in our pipeline will be.”

Pehl stated, “This chance to lead Immunomedics represents a uniquely exciting point-in-time opportunity. Based on the public data on IMMU-132 and available information regarding the Company’s pipeline, I believe the antibody-drug conjugates of Immunomedics have a high likelihood of improving the lives of countless patients with significant unmet medical needs. Now, more than ever, this is an absolute priority for me in my career.”

Pehl is replacing Michael Garone, the company’s current chief financial officer and interim chief executive officer. Garone will resume his duties as CFO.

Brendan Delaney was most recently Celgene’s vice president, U.S. Commercial Hematology Oncology. Prior to joining Celgene, Delaney was with Novartis, working within its oncology business unit in U.S. and global marketing roles.

“Brendan is one of the top commercial leaders in oncology, with deep experience managing cross-functional teams and successfully launching high-value oncology drugs,” Aghazadeh said in a statement. “We believe he is the ideal candidate to lead the launch of the IMMU-132 franchise. Further, Brendan is a truly collaborative and strategic leader who understands how to optimally organize and deploy the commercial function of a top-tier biotech company, making him an excellent fit for where we are at Immunomedics, and more importantly, where we are going as we become a commercial organization ourselves.”

In September, the company presented results of IMMU-132 in metastatic urothelial cancer in patients who have relapsed or are refractory to chemotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors. The data was released at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2017 Congress (ESMO). The drug had a 34 percent confirmed objective response rate (ORR) in 41 intention-to-treat patients, including two confirmed complete responses and 12 confirmed partial responses. Fourteen patients progressed after immuno-oncology therapy, and for them, the confirmed ORR was 29 percent.

And in October, Immunomedics initiated its Phase III ASCENT confirmatory trial of IMMU-132 in metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (mTNBC), dosing the first patient.

Aghazadeh indicated in September, that in light of the data in IMMU-132, the company expected to work with regulatory authorities on developing the appropriate paths forward for market approval.

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