- Another Roche veteran is coming to Gilead's upper ranks, with Merdad Parsey set to fill the biotech's chief medical officer position starting Nov. 1.
- Parsey most recently served as senior vice president of early clinical development in Roche's highly regarded Genentech Research and Early Development group. Gilead expects that experience will help Parsey in his new role, which involves leading clinical development and operations, medical affairs, as well as quality, compliance, and informatics.
- Gilead has been without a chief medical officer for more than a year. Long-time employee Andrew Cheng held the job for a six-month period in 2018, but left the company that September. A string of C-suite hires and departures soon followed, the most notable being a new CEO in Daniel O'Day, who ran Roche's pharmaceuticals division for six years.
C-suite changes have been commonplace at Gilead under its new CEO. The company's top commercial, scientific and patient officers each exited since O'Day took over in March, and another noteworthy departure in Robin Washington, the longtime chief financial officer, is expected next year.
The changes reflect a biotech in transition, as the rapid decline of Gilead's hepatitis drug business has pushed it to look for growth elsewhere. While the company is investing in liver disease, inflammation and HIV treatments, those areas remain highly competitive.
Cell therapy, a "critical piece" of Gilead's work in cancer therapeutics, has also proved challenging — both from a logistics and manufacturing perspective as well as the sales side. The company said earlier this year that its cell therapy subsidiary Kite Pharma would operate as its own business unit under the leadership of Eli Lilly veteran Christi Shaw.
A biotech in transition
|Departing executive||Date of departure||Gilead tenure||Successor?|
|Norbert Bischofberger, chief scientific officer||April 2018||28 years||John McHutchison|
|Andrew Cheng, chief medical officer||September 2018||19 years||Merdad Parsey|
|John Milligan, CEO||December 2018||28 years||Daniel O'Day|
|John Martin, board chairman||March 2019||28 years||Daniel O'Day|
|Alessandro Riva, head of oncology||March 2019||2 years||Unnamed|
|Laura Hamill, chief commercial officer||July 1, 2019||10 months||Johanna Mercier|
|John McHutchison, chief scientific officer||Aug. 2, 2019 ||9 years||Unnamed|
|Katie Watson, executive vice president of human resources||Sept. 1, 2019||16 years||Jyoti Mehra|
|Gregg Alton, chief patient officer||Oct. 4, 2019||20 years||Unnamed|
|Robin Washington, CFO||March 2020||11 years||Unnamed|
SOURCE: Company releases
Gilead noted in an Oct. 7 statement how Parsay brings clinical experience in inflammation, oncology and infectious disease drugs.
"I know Merdad's exceptional skills and expertise will be of great benefit to Gilead as we focus on rapidly expanding our pipeline and clinical development portfolio through internal efforts and external partnerships," O'Day said.
Brian Abrahams of RBC Capital Markets wrote in a note to clients that Parsay is a "logical fit" for the chief medical officer position, and that his appointment "should help further refine [Gilead's] go- forward strategy."