- Briggs Morrison, Head of R&D at AstraZeneca (AZ) is leaving to take a top-managment position at a small pharmaceutical company, according to a scoop by FierceBiotech.
- AstraZeneca's CEO, Pascal Soriot, will be running late-stage R&D until a replacement is found.
- His tenure is viewed in a positive light, as he ushered in a more aggressive approach to R&D and spearheaded several high-profile oncology projects, as well as bringing in new deals to fill the pipeline.
While Morrison was able to bring a sense of direction to AZ's R&D department, and even helped put it in the big leagues in the global pharma R&D arena, there have been several setbacks. Most recently, Amgen pulled out of a partnership deal with AZ, because the psoriasis drug that they were co-developing, brodalumab, generated safety concerns when some patients became suicidal.
Between 2013 and 2014, AZ's R&D investment increased from $4.8 billion to $5.6 billion, making it the sixth largest R&D spender in the industry. Pascal Soriot is determined to move AZ forward and continues to stand by his goal of AZ having $45 billion in annual revenues by 2023.
And why not? Despite the brodalumab challenge, AZ is moving forward with its plans to build out its Cambridge Biomedical Campus, where a high-level R&D team will work on small molecules and biologics research, including MedImmune's biologics and protein engineering projects.