- Paul Stoffels, the former chief scientific officer of Johnson & Johnson, will take over as CEO of the Belgium-based drugmaker Galapagos, as the once high-flying biotech looks to recover from a recent series of setbacks.
- Stoffels will succeed Onno van de Stolpe, who co-founded Galapagos more than 20 years ago and had previously announced his retirement. After a transition period in which the two executives work together, Stoffels will take over on April 1, Galapagos said Wednesday.
- The former J&J executive was there at the beginning of Galapagos, when it was formed in 1999 through a joint venture between the pharmaceutical companies Tibotec and Crucell — the latter of which went on to become Janssen Vaccines. Stoffels was chairman of Tibotec at the time, and he served on the board of Galapagos until 2002.
For Galapagos, the past two years have been eventful. In February 2020, the company’s shares traded above $274. It had just inked a $5 billion research deal with Gilead the year before, and looked set to win Food and Drug Administration approval of a rheumatoid arthritis drug.
But in August of that year, the FDA issued a surprise rejection of Galapagos' drug, called filgotinib. And by December, the company's development partner Gilead had abandoned the push to get filgotinib approved in the U.S.
An additional setback came in 2021, when the company released disappointing results for another one of its experimental drugs that was meant to treat ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
When van de Stolpe announced last August his plans to retire, Wall Street analysts hoped the leadership change could put Galapagos on a new path. The outgoing CEO seems to think Stoffels is up to that task, calling him "one of the world's most successful leaders in the industry."
"This will be the turning point,” van de Stolpe tweeted Wednesday.
Investors appear to agree, as Galapagos' share price rose 18% to almost $63 in early trading Thursday.
Stoffels retired from J&J at the end of December after almost two decades at the pharmaceutical giant. While there, he helped reinvigorate the company’s drug pipeline and oversaw development of its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine in record time.
He joined J&J in 2002, when the company bought Tibotec and Virco. In addition to serving as chairman at Tibotec, Stoffels had held the CEO job at Virco.