Saturday, December 10, 2011

Alnylam General Counsel Has Left Company

According to Linkedin, Alnylam's General Counsel, Philip Chase, has just left the company to become General Counsel of Adimab [note: an earlier version incorrectly stated that P. Chase had been with the company for only a little over a year, while in fact he had been there for 4 years]. This departure comes at a critical time for Alnylam as it is involved in a fierce battle with Tekmira for control over SNALP technology, and in which it has started to lose a number of preliminary battles (defamation suit and the City of Hope PR disaster). It also comes after various, possibly related, recent changes including the VP for Intellectual Property (Donna Ward), the lead attorneys in the VSP02 Interference case (Rothwell Figg), a CFO (Patty Allen), key business development personnel as well as two CSOs.

The strongmen at the helm of the company, the CEO and COO, and BoD, however, have largely remained intact during the upheavals over the past 2 years. In fact, John Maraganore (CEO) and Barry Greene (COO) were just re-'incentivized' in the form of options grants that will pocket them $150k and $100k for each US dollar increase in the company's share price (strike price near 3-year low, after 80% stock decline).


Alnylam program update

Based on a poster presentation at this year’s Amercian Society for Hematology meeting (ASH11), also the remaining target pick under Alnylam’s 5x15™ will be a SNALP-based program that targets a gene in the liver: Tmprss6 knockdown for the treatment of iron overload diseases. As such, all of Alnylam’s core clinical programs are SNALP-based. If you had looked at the pipeline 3 years ago, you would have thought that this was where Tekmira was heading. The challenge now will be to clinically mature the programs to a point (in 2015) where the package will be attractive enough for a company like Genzyme/Sanofi-Aventis to acquire the orphan drug company Alnylam for somewhere between $1.0-1.5B.

This development confirms signals that the company has recently started to send out (Rodman Renshaw investor note and comments in the Piper Jaffray presentation) namely that not only is Alnylam now advertising itself as a product, and not platform company, but that it is likely to be all about gene knockdown in the liver. Long gone seem the days when management predicted Alnylam to be the next Genentech. In light of the confrontation with Tekmira, this path opens up the possibility of a settlement whereby Alnylam is allowed continued access to SNALP for the 5 programs, with Tekmira getting full control over other SNALP applications in and especially outside the liver. As a product company that has committed on its programs, why bother with trying to control a platform which is giving Alnylam nothing but legal headaches.

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4 comments:

Steve_382 said...

I suppose it's nit picking, but your link'd in reference says Chase was there for over 4 years:


General Counsel Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Public Company; 51-200 employees; ALNY; Biotechnology industry

May 2007 – November 2011 (4 years 7 months)

Giles said...

Is it becoming a little boring this witch hunt on Alnylam Dirk?You may be right but I doubt you have fully reviewed their position versus Tekmira's whose side you seem to take at the drop of a hat.How about a week or two talking about the core subject rather than your pet subject.As you can see from your loyal support there are people who believe in you and even trust your judgement.You risk marginalising followers and making them worry that you are an academic out of touch with the real world.

Dirk Haussecker said...

Steve- that's correct. I was falsely under the impression that he was the successor of Donna Ward (former for VP IP) who left a year ago.

Giles- it is my judgment that control of the industry's most advanced systemic delivery platform is critical to the future of RNAi Therapeutics. You may disagree, but the RNAi clinical pipeline development over the last 2 years where the majority of programs were based on SNALP, I believe shows that this is indeed the case. The strategies of major Big Pharma players such as Merck, Takeda and Novartis are also affected by this topic.

If you have topics you are interested to learn more about, but has not been covered on my blog, you can always commission one for your exclusive use.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog, Dirk, please continue, there is none other that combines deep understanding of the science with a wide understanding of the RNAi investment world.

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