Gilead’s R&D chief to step down as new CEO O’Day rings the changes

Gilead’s chief scientific officer, John McHutchison is to leave the company at the beginning of next month during a period of change at the big US pharma.

CEO Daniel O’Day, formerly Roche’s pharma chief, took over at the beginning of March and is already making waves by reshaping the company’s senior management team.

He has already hired former Eli Lilly exec Christi Shaw to lead the Gilead’s Kite cancer immunotherapy unit.

John McHutchison

McHutchison had only held the role since March last year after Gilead’s veteran R&D chief Norbert Bischofberger stepped down.

Now McHutchison is to leave too – Gilead has said that he has decided to step down from the job from 2 August. There was no word about where McHutchison will go, although he should be able to take a nice holiday as he weighs up his options.

Gilead’s filing with the US financial regulator said he will get a $1.1 million payoff to settle his contract.

McHutchison joined Gilead in 2010 and helped to develop the hepatitis C drugs that have been the backbone of the company’s sales over the last decade.

He also helped to develop Gilead’s first cancer drug, Zydelig (idelalisib), which has not been a huge commercial success because of safety issues but has paved the way for much larger projects such as its $11.9 billion merger with cancer cell therapy firm Kite Pharma.

Also out are two high-ranking execs – chief patient officer Gregg Alton, and executive vice president of human resources Katie Watson will also go, Gilead said.

Alton joined Gilead in 1999 and led its corporate and medical affairs functions, and developing world access programmes, as well as commercial operations in certain countries in Asia and Latin America.

He also served as general counsel and helped to shape the company’s access model to HIV and viral hepatitis drugs in resource-limited countries.

Alton will remain with Gilead until 4 October and plans to be on hand as an advisor until the end of the year as others take on his responsibilities.

Jyoti Mehra has been named executive vice president of human resource and will assume responsibility for the worldwide HR function.

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