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January 11, 2010
Volume 88, Number 2
p. 7
Article appeared online January 8, 2010

Biogen Idec's CEO To Retire

Biotechnology: James Mullen will leave as the company grapples with a stagnant pipeline

Lisa M. Jarvis

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In the latest changing of the guard at a big biotech company, James C. Mullen, president and CEO of Biogen Idec, will retire in June. The move comes after several turbulent years at the Cambridge, Mass.-based firm.

Mullen worked at Biogen Idec for more than 20 years and has been CEO since 2000. Although the firm flourished in the early part of his tenure, it has struggled more recently to coax new products from its pipeline.

The company has not commercialized a new drug since 2005, when it launched the multiple sclerosis treatment Tysabri. The drug was quickly pulled from the market after it was linked to a life-threatening brain infection in a handful of patients. Tysabri eventually returned to the market and brought in $589 million in 2008, but the potential side effect makes reaching blockbuster status a challenge.

Biogen does have several key drugs in its late-stage pipeline, and sales of its staple products have started to grow again. Still, over the past two years, corporate raider Carl Icahn has been trying to force the company to sell or otherwise change.

Mullen’s exit follows the departure of another Boston-area biotech CEO. In May 2009, Joshua Boger, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, retired from the CEO role he held for 17 years just as the company prepared to launch an important drug for hepatitis C. Some industry observers believe Henri A. Termeer, CEO of Genzyme, could be next. Genzyme shareholders have called for change after manufacturing problems caused shortages of key products.

Biogen says it has begun a search for Mullen’s successor.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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