Immunomedics names ex-Celgene exec its new CEO

Biopharmaceutical company Immunomedics Inc. has a new president and CEO. The company also appointed Michael Pehl to the board of directors, all beginning Dec. 7.

Meanwhile, Brendan Delaney became chief commercial officer for the Morris Plains-based company Friday. Interim CEO Michael Garone will resume his role as chief financial officer.

“Today’s announcement represents the culmination of an intensely thorough — but ultimately extremely rewarding — search process for the right leader to guide the next phase in the transformation of Immunomedics.” said Chairman Dr. Behzad Aghazadeh. “As we undertook this task, the board and I were focused on finding a best-in-class talent with a proven ability to successfully navigate the approval and commercialization of ground-breaking drugs in the oncology space — which we are confident IMMU-132 and other products in our pipeline will be.”

Pehl most recently served as president of hematology and oncology at Summit-based Celgene Corp. Before that, he was the company’s head of global marketing, head of hematology Europe and the first general manager of Celgene in Germany. Over the course of his 11 years at Celgene, Pehl launched multiple blockbuster drugs in the areas of hematology and oncology, including Revlimid, Pomalyst and Abraxane.

“While Michael’s track record in this area speaks for itself, it was his less-tangible qualities that made it clear he was the right choice,” Aghazadeh said. “As we did our diligence, we repeatedly heard Michael lauded for his strategic vision, operational expertise and confident execution ability. Perhaps most importantly, we time and again heard him singled out for his unique capacity to effectively and compassionately communicate across a spectrum of audiences including patients, (key opinion leaders), investors, regulators and fellow team members. This is the type of singular leader we were looking for and are thrilled to have found for Immunomedics.”

Under Pehl’s leadership, Celgene developed and launched the acute myeloid leukemia drug IDHIFA in industry-record time, and also built an industry-leading pipeline of late and early stage products to treat multiple high-unmet need conditions.

“This chance to lead Immunomedics represents a uniquely exciting point-in-time opportunity,” Pehl said. “Based on the public data on IMMU-132 and available information regarding the Company’s pipeline, I believe the antibody-drug conjugates of Immunomedics have a high likelihood of improving the lives of countless patients with significant unmet medical needs. Now more than ever, this is an absolute priority for me in my career.”

New COO Delaney also comes from Celgene, where he was most recently vice president of U.S. Commercial Hematology Oncology.

In that position, he oversaw a team of about 400 professionals across sales, marketing and strategic alliances.

Under his leadership, revenue grew to more than $7 billion annually, representing a significant proportion of Celgene’s global revenue. Prior to this role, Brendan held a series of other senior-level marketing roles at Celgene.

In his role as CCO at Immunomedics, Delaney will be responsible for building out the company’s commercialization team, including sales, marketing, market access and pricing.

“Brendan is one of the top commercial leaders in oncology, with deep experience managing cross-functional teams and successfully launching high-value oncology drugs,” Aghazadeh said. “We believe he is the ideal candidate to lead the launch of the IMMU-132 franchise. Further, Brendan is a truly collaborative and strategic leader who understands how to optimally organize and deploy the commercial function of a top-tier biotech company, making him an excellent fit for where we are at Immunomedics — and more importantly — where we are going as we become a commercial organization ourselves.”

Delaney said he is “thrilled to take on the challenge of building a commercial unit from the ground up at Immunomedics.”

“What makes the opportunity even more exciting is my belief that IMMU-132 will truly address a high unmet need for patients and potentially serve as foundational therapy for multiple solid tumor indications,” he said. “Additionally, I have deep respect for Michael Pehl from our time working together at Celgene and cannot wait to collaborate to define and execute the commercial strategy at Immunomedics.”

He will report directly to Pehl.

“I was also attracted to this role by the chance to help develop and instill a science-based and patient-centric culture of performance excellence at Immunomedics,” Pehl said. “The technology, science and talent the company has at its disposal are world-class, and I am honored that Behzad and the board have turned the reins over to me. While the U.S. and global approval and commercialization of IMMU-132 for metastatic triple negative breast cancer are a key goal for me and my team, we simultaneously will be focused on developing IMMU-132 in multiple solid tumor indications, thereby laying the foundation to transform Immunomedics into a recognized leader in the field of antibody-drug conjugates.”