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Lilly hires new leader of immuno-oncology

Published on 01/05/18 at 08:37am
IMAGE: NYU Langone

Immuno-oncology has become a huge area of the oncology market, led by the wave of PD-1/L1 drugs that are reaping massive annual sales.

MSD’s Keytruda managed $3.8 billion in sales through 2017 while BMS’ Opdivo brought in $4.9 billion – it’s an area with huge revenue growth and one that, apparently, Eli Lilly has an increasing interest in breaking into.

With this in mind, the company has appointed Leena Gandhi has been appointed to oversee the Lilly Oncology immunotherapy portfolio.

Dr Gandhi joins Lilly after a career working as a thoracic oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, with a role as Assistant Professors of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Dr Gandhi is highly regarded for her experience in thoracic oncology and immunotherapy, having worked in early drug development at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and now leading the Thoracic Medical Oncology Program at NYU,” said Kimberly Blackwell, Vice President of Early Phase Development and Immuno-oncology. “We know that her expertise and innovative thinking will lead to significant progress for patients facing cancer through the use of immune therapies. We are thrilled to have Dr Gandhi join us at Lilly.”

The new appointment will a bring first-hand experience of bringing an immunotherapy treatment through the clinic, after having worked on a number of Keytruda’s trial programs.

Whether Lilly is looking directly at moving into the PD-1/L1 space is unclear, given that it would enter the market far behind potential competitors.

However, what is clear is that Lilly is engineering a real shift in focus towards oncology, by completing revamping its oncology unit – with Blackwell, herself, only appointed last month and a new head of R&D, Dan Skovronsky, who was given a remit to push through research in immuno-oncology.

Ben Hargreaves

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