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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thoughts on Mackey and AstraZeneca

I talked about the biotech/pharma "South Sea Islanders" and how they arrange things but never seem to "get some wealth in their system".  Back in 2010 AstraZeneca (AZN) rearranged their cargo cult airport and hired Martin Mackey to be their new head of R&D. He has now been let go in yet another shake up of Cargo Cult research and development leadership. The new guys will come in with great expectations, just as Mackey did, and they will proceed to do whatever people at that level do. I don't know what they do. It's not science. It's a new arrangement in the Cargo Cult Airport of AZN meant to build wealth into their system. According to Fiercebiotech:
Now the global R&D operation will be divvied among three key players: Mene Pangalos, MedImmune's Bahija Jallal and Morrison Briggs. They will each be given one of three tasks: Head of discovery and early development of small molecules, running early-stage work on biologics (MedImmune's role), and late-stage development.
Pangalos has been an outspoken proponent of finding a more flexible, lower cost approach to drug research, championing the virtual strategy adopted for neurosciences work and shunning big investments in bricks and mortar in favor of a more open R&D environment. Jallal, meanwhile, has been pioneering new deals as well, recently inking a pact with a Chinese CRO aimed at shaving four to 6 years off the development time for one of her biologic programs. Morrison, meanwhile, is another survivor of the storm. He was brought in a year ago to head late-stage work after stints at Merck ($MRK) and Pfizer.
"This new senior executive team structure, that draws heavily from the leadership talent within the company, enables us to bring an even sharper management focus to key pipeline assets, key brands and key markets, and helps us further accelerate decision-making," said Soriot in a statement.     

I mentioned (in this post), that high ranking positions in any company are often judged in non-scientific, random ways. In "The Drunkards Walk" Leonard Mlodinow tells the story of, Sherry Lansing, the former CEO of Paramount.  She was the boss during a string of blockbusters like “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart” and “Titanic.” She was hailed by the Hollywood press as a genius. After a series of box-office disasters however, she was replaced. After she was let go for her poor performance Paramount went on to have its best summer in a decade. Mlodinow pointed out that the new success of her replacement came from such like, “War of the Worlds” and “The Longest Yard,” that were in production when Lansing was still in charge. 

Martin Mackey certainly doesn't like what is happening to his career. He lived and died in a random system that he felt was not random. When he was on top it was a great system. Now? When Martin Mackey was given his turn it was not a good time. 


The Cargo Cult Airport has been rearranged. We look to the skies...

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