Glaxo Lures Top Pfizer Scientist to Lead Vaccines Research
(Bloomberg) -- GlaxoSmithKline Plc lured a senior Pfizer Inc. scientist who helped develop the U.S. pharma company’s Covid shot after the British drugmaker fell behind in the chase for coronavirus vaccines.
Phil Dormitzer is set to join Glaxo as global head of vaccines research and development, the pharma company said Tuesday. As chief scientific officer of RNA and viral vaccines at Pfizer, he worked on shots for a respiratory virus and influenza, as well as the RNA-based Covid vaccine with BioNTech SE.
Glaxo lost its rank as the number-one producer of vaccines by revenue during the pandemic as it failed to successfully develop its own Covid shot while Pfizer, Moderna Inc. and U.K. rival AstraZeneca Plc crossed the finish line. The pharma company is now seeking to capitalize on technologies such as messenger RNA and ensure it’s a dominant player beyond the pandemic.
Shares of Glaxo, which had been declining, gained as much as 0.8% after the announcement. Pfizer shares were little changed at 9:34 a.m. in New York.
An experimental Covid vaccine Glaxo has been developing with Sanofi has suffered months of delays, but could become available next year if a late-stage trial is successful. Activist investment firm Elliott Investment Management has been agitating for changes at the drugmaker since taking a multi-billion-dollar stake in the company and publicly disagreeing with some parts of its strategy.
Pfizer expects $36 billion in revenue from its Covid vaccine this year and another $29 billion in 2022. The vaccine is now the best-selling medicine ever for any given year.
Dormitzer’s appointment comes as Glaxo prepares for a separation in mid-2022 that will leave a standalone pharma and vaccines company. The new vaccines executive, who will be based in the Boston area, previously worked at Novartis AG, where he was involved in the Swiss drugmaker’s response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic, among other roles.
“Phil’s scientific expertise and significant experience with key innovative technologies, such as mRNA, structure-based antigen design and synthetic biology, will be key to ensuring we remain a leader in this field,” Hal Barron, Glaxo’s chief scientific officer, said in the statement.
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