Celgene Makes R&D Changes & Appoints Dr. Alise Reicin to Lead

Oct 23, 2018 | Celgene, R&D

Celgene has brought in an R&D turnaround professional in Dr. Alise Reicin who recently was involved with Merck’s leading Keytruda immuno-oncology product.
Dr. Reicin has been positioned to lead R&D operations including biostatistics, portfolio and project management which according to Celgene is positioned for a “new organizational structure enhances corporate strategy and focus on discovery, development and commercialization.” Dr. Rupert Vessey will continue to work on leading early R&D programs.  Dr. Reicin previously worked for Merck Germany within it EMD Serono R&D operation as SVP and head of global clinical development. Prior to Merck Germany, Dr. Reicin worked for Merck U.S. as VP, project and pipeline leadership, oncology franchise and core participant on the Keytruda team.
Dr. Reicin earned her MD from Harvard Medical School and BS in Biochemistry from Barnard. She has been an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University.
Celgene has struggled as of late.  Apparently an R&D audit revealed that a majority of its programs failed.  Moreover investment bank Leerink recently reported that the commercial sponsor has produced inferior results. It noted that only one out of 20 programs have resulted in a marketed product–Otezla for psoriasis and 14 out of 28 projects have been eliminated from the portfolio in just the last couple of years.  See more on Leerink analysis:  https://www.investors.com/news/technology/celgene-drug-development-failures/
How valuable is Celgene’s current pipeline?  Why have so many mishaps occurred in what has been an incredible success story? What organizational factors are inherent in such problems versus a string of independent bad decisions and bad luck?  Evidence points toward a combination of questionable decisions, faltering management and bad luck–all in the context of rapidly changing; dynamically unfolding R&D and commercial marketplaces.  They met challenges with Mongersen (drug they acquired) and another failure with Ozanimod where its filing was rejected by the FDA. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-celgene-fda/u-s-fda-rejects-filing-for-celgene-ms-drug-shares-fall-idUSKCN1GB30U
This was notable as it is rare for a well established biopharma sponsor to receive and outright refusal-to-file notice (NDA package was materially lacking).
Celgene has made the right move to bring Dr. Reicin in to a leadership position. She has some tough calls a head–and must not only work diligently to turn an organization (and a culture?) around but in parallel manage and prepare for further bad luck.


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