AstraZeneca to lose two senior executives as Ironwood, Immunocore announce new CEOs

AstraZeneca executives Mark Mallon and Bahija Jallal are leaving the company to join Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Immunocore as their respective CEOs, the latter companies announced Friday. Mallon most recently served as executive vice president of global product and portfolio strategy at AstraZeneca, while Jallal is president of the drugmaker's MedImmune unit. 

Mallon's appointment comes after Ironwood disclosed plans last May to split its operations into two independent entities in response to shareholder pressure. The firm, which will focus on its existing gastrointestinal (GI) drugs, including Linzess (linaclotide), expects to complete the separation in the first half of this year (for related analysis, see ViewPoints: 'New Ironwood' suddenly looks like 'Smaller Ironwood'). 

Ironwood noted that its current chief executive Peter Hecht will step down and head the spinoff, which will be called Cyclerion Therapeutics and focus on developing five soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulators targeting the treatment of serious and orphan diseases. In September, the FDA granted a fast-track designation to the company's experimental sGC stimulator praliciguat for the treatment of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. Commenting on the appointments, Ironwood board chairman Terrance McGuire remarked "we are delighted to name [Mallon] and [Hecht] to their new roles following the separation, as each of them is uniquely suited to maximise the value of the business they will lead." 

Meanwhile, Immunocore said that Jallal will replace Andrew Hotchkiss, who has served as interim CEO of the drugmaker since Eliot Forster stepped down last February.

Immunocore chairman John Bell stated "[Jallal's] appointment will significantly strengthen Immunocore as we advance our lead candidate, [T-cell receptor (TCR)] IMCgp100, towards commercialisation, and our growing pipeline of TCR candidates through clinical development."

Separately, Ironwood announced Sunday that Michael Shetzline was appointed chief medical officer and head of drug development of the company, effective January 28. Shetzline previously led global clinical development for all GI assets at Takeda, and has also served as global programme head for integrated hospital care, critical care and cardiovascular and metabolism, and as head of translational medicine GI discovery at Novartis.

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