Pfizer Inc. Chief Neuroscientist Moves to Biogen
For Biogen Inc , Ehlers, 47, will be filling a post that was vacant for nearly nine months. He will step into the shoes of former Biogen head of R&D, Doug Williams. Doug had left the post to lead a biotech startup. Ehlers has a lot of experience in biotech. Before joining Pfizer, he taught neurobiology at the Duke University Medical Center. After joining Pfizer, he climbed up the ladder, filling in for those who left. Eventually, he came to head one of the firm’s most critical units: the neuroscience and pain research division. Ehlers was responsible for looking after the research for drugs for serious conditions that affect the brain. Biogen too has similar programs going on.
Now with Ehlers, Biogen Inc hopes that it can grow its pipeline and speed up the development of its various candidates. At present, Biogen‘s pipeline includes a compound called aducanumab, which is being seen as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. There is also opicinumab, which is mainly meant for people affected by multiple sclerosis. Later this year, Biogen is expected to report the results of phase 2 of the trial of these compounds for the cited conditions.
Biogen’s CEO, George Scangos, termed Ehlers as a great fit for their firm. About the long delay since July in filling the seat, Scangos said they took their time to look worldwide for the perfect talent and they found the right mix of the talents that they were looking for in Ehlers. However, it is not going to be a walk in the park for the latter. Hitting the ground running, he will have to deal with low sales of the firm’s lead product Tecfidera. Runaway costs have gone up and that has led to the R&D budget often being squeezed.
Enbrel and Lyrica Sales are Likely to Drop
Lyrica is a drug for treating epilepsy. It is expected to remain the main cash cow for Pfizer. However, analysts are expecting that its sales for Q1 2016 would be about a 7% drop on a Y-o-y basis and a 9% drop compared to the last quarter. As for Enbrel, it is a drug that is owned by Amgen and is co-marketed by the two firms. Enbrel’s sales are expected to drop 14% on a Y-o-y basis and 27% compared to the last quarter. Pfizer is set to release the earnings report tomorrow.