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13 Life Science Leaders to watch in 2013

Authored by Liftstream

The life sciences industry has faced considerable challenges over the last few years and 2013 looks to be another tough year despite some improved optimism emanating out of certain companies and markets. Liftstream takes a look at 13 people we believe are worth watching during 2013 as they take on their own unique set of challenges.

Dr. Flemming Ornskov – incoming CEO – Shire 

Dr. Ornskov steps into Angus Russell’s shoes at the helm of Shire this spring. On his agenda sits a very clear focus towards Shire’s Speciality pharma business and the launch of Vyvanse. In the rare disease space, Shire has portfolio opportunities but probably also needs to get busy with the cheque book and start adding to its portfolio, although it has made some interesting investments in this area, such as Ultragenyx and Bluebird Bio and as we go to press news breaks they acquire Lotus. The question most will be asking is whether Dr. Ornskov can fend off acquisitive interest and make some deals for continued independence and also whether a distinct three franchise operating model works for a company of Shire’s size.

  • • Define the long-term strategy for Shire
  • • Execute acquisitions to help bolster Shire’s pipeline
  • • Look at global organisational structure


Mr Pascal Soriot – CEO – AstraZeneca

Mr Soriot commenced his new role in October 2012. He has been tasked with leading AstraZeneca through one of the most challenging periods in their history. Mr Soriot will shortly announce the long-term strategy he intends for AZ.  This will no doubt include a strong desire to purchase outright or license-in products in 2013 ensuring the year is going to eventful for AstraZeneca as this new strategy take hold.

  • • Define new strategy and structure
  • • Convince investors his strategy works
  • • Align workforce to his new ideas and vision
  • • Acquire to fill pipeline and manage the effect of patent expiries


Mr Jorn Aldag – CEO – UniQure

At the end of 2012, UniQure announced the EMEA had approved Glybera for use making it the first gene therapy approved in the Western World. Mr Aldag’s challenge for 2013 is to convince payers that the drug is worth the rumoured $1 million price tag?

  • • Convince payers that Glybera really is worth paying
  • • Ensure the commercial  launch of Glybera in runs to plan
  • • Advance regulatory approval of Glybera in other key markets


Mr Richard Gonzalez – CEO – AbbVie

With the divestment of AbbVie from Abbott at the beginning of 2013, Mr Gonzalez has been chosen to lead the new enterprise. Mr Gonzalez has been tasked with developing the company and broadening the company’s portfolio beyond the commercial juggernaut  which Humira is.

  • • Prove to investors there  is life after Humira
  • • Advance AbbVie’s extensive pipeline of products
  • • Gel together the ‘new’ AbbVie workforce


Mr David Mott – General Partner – New Enterprise Associates (NEA)

NEA scored big in 2012 with a new $2.6bn fund, outstripping all others. This year they start putting that money to work by looking for healthcare and more specifically biopharma investments. The industry has had some capital supply issues in recent years and to have a significant fund like this getting active means it will be interesting to see where that capital is placed.

  • • Strategic deal selection
  • • Selecting the right management teams for portfolio companies
  • • Looking for international opportunities


Dr Dalvir Gill – CEO – TransCelerate

Dalvir Gill was appointed the CEO of TransCelerate the non-profit drug discovery organisation. Dr Gills challenge to help simplify the drug development process through a number of initiatives. One of Gill’s challenges in 2013 will be to ensure all the stakeholders of TransCelerate remain supportive  of the non-profit’s objective s.

  • • Harmonise the various goals of the stakeholders
  • • Advance the company’s various initiatives
  • • Raise the global profile of TransCelerate Biopharma.


Dr Jeremy Levin – CEO – Teva

Dr. Levin has been in situ since last year, making some already fairly public statements of where Teva sits today and why its strategy has stalled. Teva’s growth has been tremendous in a period of relatively moderate sector performance. Dr. Levin announced late in 2012 that Teva would set about a $2bn reorganisation to trim costs and focus the company more towards a broader product base capable of replacing some of the branded medicines going off patent. Equally, he said that the company will begin to look much more towards the smaller bolt-on acquisitions of strategic value than the mega deals which saw the company come to prominence. He has dumped certain cancer programmes and reduced interest in cell therapies. Levin has a clear strategy for taking Teva forward, it will be interesting to watch and see if he can execute on this.

  • • Strategic repositioning of the company
  • • Acquisitions which add strategic value to Teva
  • • Global restructuring to trim costs


Dr. Michael Pellini – CEO – Foundation Medicine

Dr. Pellini joined Foundation Medicine in May 2011 and the company has gone from strength to strength. Dr Pellini recently secured $56m in series B funding for the development of FoundationOne. After a strong start, Dr. Pellini will need to keep Foundation Medicine on the right track in order to satisfy the long list of illustrious investors.

  • • Ensure the continued success of FoundationOne and keep building lucrative partnerships with pharma and biotech
  • • Foundation Medicine has now raised almost $100m and investors will be looking to see it is being spent towards an optimal return


Dr Jeff Leiden – CEO – Vertex Pharmaceuticals

2012 was a tumultuous year for Vertex with a number positive trials reporting, however this was partly overshadowed by cystic fibrosis data issue in the summer. However, Vertex’s Cystic Fibrosis drug, Kalydeco was one of the most important drug approvals in 2012 and looks set to help Vertex dominate the cystic fibrosis market.

  • • Ensure continued investor faith in Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • • Ensure Vertex seals its commercial position in the Cystic Fibrosis market with Kalydeco
  • • Drive forward attempts to expand Kalydeco’s use by combining it with other drugs


Dr Karl-Ludwig Kley – CEO – Merck KGaA

2012 was a tough year for Merck KGaA and 2013 will not be any easier. In December, the company’s cancer vaccine failed in phase III trials.  With setbacks in 2012 to extend the indications for Erbitux and job cuts, site closures and strategic review of pipeline, the company has a heavy agenda for 2013. The results of the Stimuvax Phase-III INSPIRE trial could also help determine the success or failure of the year for Merck KGaA

  • • Publish data from  INSPIRE  Stimuvax trial
  • • Company needs to look towards strategic realignment and possible acquisitions
  • • Effective restructuring and realignment of the business


Mr Richard Bergstrom – Director General – EFPIA

Mr Bergstorm was appointed Director General in early 2012 with the task of leading EFIPA into 2013 and beyond.  2013 promises to be yet another challenging year for the European industry and strong confident leadership from EFPIA will be crucial. A consistent challenge of any EFPIA Director General including Mr Bergstom will be to ensure the interests of all stakeholders are met. Mr Bergstrom will need to begin a modernisation of EFPIA and set a new agenda for coming period, Liftstream understands this work is very much underway.

  • • Bring leadership to the major issues driving the European pharma agenda
  • • Continue to work with all stakeholders to improve access to innovative medicines


Dr John Martin – CEO – Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences had a very active 2012 launching a number of drugs. The Pharmasset acquisition hangs over the company and Martin will need to continue to show investors this deal was worth its hefty price. Gilead is emerging as a leader in Hepatitis C and has recently expanded into the oncology field. 2013 will produce a number of key clinical results for Gilead, namely Phase II &III trials of HCV drug Sofosbuvir. Gilead has made no secret of their ambition to expand into oncology and haematology and Martin is expected to continue this diversification.

  • • Ensure Gilead remains on track with clinical programs
  • • Effectively manage the integration and value opportunities of Pharmasset and YM Bioscience
  • • Consolidate position in HIV and anti-infectives.


Dr Francoise Nader – CEO – NPS Pharmaceuticals

Francois Nader’s NPS Pharma crept up on everyone last year and by the year end, they were sitting with an FDA approval tucked safely away in their back pockets and were planning for a launch of Gattex.  With a planned submission for Natpara in Q2/3 2013, the company has a real shot at being a 3 product company in short order. Given they already have a commercial tie up with Amgen for Sensipar and now Takeda in Europe for Gattex, the company is facing two primary challenges as we see it; Commercial success for Gattex with an effective pricing and reimbursement strategy. Also, maintaining independence. With a current market Cap of $800m, they are potentially in the cross hairs for those companies looking for interesting acquisitions in the orphan drug market.

  • • Commercial launch of Gattex
  • • Regulatory approval of Naptara
  • • Remaining independent, assuming this is what they want


We’d be interested to hear your views of who you think might be in for an interesting 2013 by sharing with us in the comments section below or getting into conversation with us on twitter by tweeting @liftstream using #LS13for13

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