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BMS names Francis Cuss as new R&D chief

Will replace Elliott Sigal who retires

BMS Francis Cuss

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has named Dr Francis Cuss as the successor to current R&D chief Dr Elliott Sigal, who is retiring effective July 1, 2013.

61-year-old Dr Sigal has served as chief scientific officer at BMS since 2004 and has been a member of the board of directors at the pharma company since 2011. Dr Cuss, 58, has been at the company for 10 years, joining BMS from GlaxoSmithKline after earlier stints at Schering-Plough.

The news came as something of a surprise for investors, as there had been no official mention of Sigal's retirement plans to date. BMS is holding a conference call later today to discuss the handover.

"Having worked closely with Francis since 2010 when I invited him to join my senior management team immediately after becoming chief executive officer, I know that he can ensure the continuation of both the leadership and strategy that have been the hallmarks of our success," commented BMS' CEO Lamberto Andreotti.

The change in R&D leadership comes at a pivotal time for BMS, which like most of its peers in the industry needs its late-stage pipeline to deliver if it is to recover from the loss of patent protection on blockbuster medicines, notably anticoagulant Plavix (clopidogrel).

Dr Cuss' elevation to top R&D job comes as some of the projects he was directly responsible for – particularly the hepatitis C portfolio and cancer drug nivolumab (PD-1) – are seen as critical to BMS' future growth prospects.

Nivolumab is in phase III trials for lung, renal and skin cancer, while BMS hopes to be in a position to file for approval of an all-oral treatment regimen for hepatitis C by the end of the year in Japan. This is despite a recent setback when a trial involving nucleotide polymerase (NS5b) inhibitor BMS-986094 was halted on safety grounds.

8th April 2013

From: Research

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