Bluebird bio confirmed that Nicola Heffron will head its operations in Europe as the company begins rolling out its first gene therapy, Zynteglo, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. EU regulators granted conditional approval to Zynteglo last June for certain patients 12 years and older with transfusion-dependent beta-thalassaemia, making it the first gene therapy approved for the disease.
Heffron will be based in Switzerland and replaces Andrew Obenshain, who is joining bluebird bio's global leadership team and relocating to Boston. Heffron previously worked at Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb's recently acquired Celgene unit, as well as at Shire, where she served as head of the global internal medicine franchise.
Earlier this week, Germany became the first country globally where Zynteglo is commercially available, and bluebird bio said it reached agreements providing coverage for the therapy for up to half of eligible patients there. Costs for Zynteglo will be spread over five years at €315,000 ($351,000) annually, with the last four payments hinging on the gene therapy's performance.
Meanwhile, the company has initiated a rolling submission for Zynteglo in the US, and expects to complete the filing in the first half of 2020.
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