GLAXO HOLDINGS -- AMERICANIZATION OF TOP MANAGEMENT: ERNEST MARIO, PhD
GLAXO HOLDINGS -- AMERICANIZATION OF TOP MANAGEMENT: ERNEST MARIO, PhD, succeeded Bernard Taylor as chief executive of the British Glaxo Holdings PLC on May 9. A New Jersey native, Mario has been with Glaxo, Inc., the firm's U.S. subsidiary, since 1986. Glaxo's choice of a chief executive from stateside mirrors a similar choice by Beecham three years ago, when American Bob Bauman was made chairman. Mario's elevation to Glaxo's top spot appears to have been foreshadowed by his election to the Glaxo Holdings board on April 1, 1988. Mario, 50, has been chairman and CEO of Glaxo, Inc. since July 1, 1988. He has concurrently served as group managing director responsible for North, Central and South America. The company intends to select a new regional managing director to perform those duties. Because of its growth by leaps and bounds, the company has had to recruit much of its expanding management group from outside. The firm is said to be including an outside search among its options for Mario's successor. Following Mario's appointment, Taylor, his 54 year-old predecessor, resigned from the board of directors. He would have reported to Mario. Mario has been on a fast track for the last decade, riding the success of Capoten at Squibb, and Zantac at Glaxo. Prior to joining Glaxo in 1986 as president and chief operating officer, Mario was with Squibb for 11 years. He held executive posts in Squibb's pharmaceutical, chemical and medical product operation areas and was a member of the board for three years. Before Squibb, Mario was with SmithKline as VP of manufacturing. A former NIH fellow, Mario holds a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from Rutgers and received master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Rhode Island. Mario reports to Glaxo Holdings Chairman Sir Paul Girolami, 63. The five other executive directors report to Mario. Girolami's contract extends to the age of 70. Mario faces the difficult task of guiding Glaxo through the crest of the Zantac success. The company has a full pipeline with several late stage compounds reaching regulatory review. In April, for example, the firm filed a product license application (PLA) in the U.K. for the anti-emetic odansetron (GR38032) and expects to file an NDA with FDA in the next few months. The drug, which also is being studied for antidepressant indications, is initially being submitted for the management of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemo- and radiotherapy. Glaxo maintains that odansetron is more potent and longer-lasting than metoclopramide. Two drugs have moved into "full development," the company said, referring to initiation of Phase III trials. The PLA for the antidepressant fluparoxan (GR50360), an alpha-receptor antagonist with "similar activity to amitriptyline," is not expected before the latter half of 1992, Glaxo said. Also in full development is the parenteral cephalosporin GR69153. Glaxo claims the broad-spectrum antibiotic has superior microbial activity, exhibits greater stability to beta-lactamases and is longer acting than ceftazidime. Glaxo Group R&D Director Richard Sykes, MD, summed up the progress of Glaxo's drug development program at a May 5 analysts' meeting. "In the past 12 months," he noted, "seven compounds have moved from research into exploratory development, and two compounds have gone forward into the final stages of development. A few exploratory development compounds have been dropped. Our pipeline of nine full and 16 exploratory development compounds is on track." The following compounds have moved into the exploratory stage: a 5HT-antagonist for emesis (GR68755) that is a follow-up to odansetron; GR90352 (formerly known as carbovir), a reverse transcriptase inhibitor anti-viral for AIDS that was licensed in October from the University of Minnesota; a prostoglandin for bronchial asthma; an MHG Co-A reductase inhibitor for atheroma and an adenosine A.-agonist for type 2 diabetes; sumatriptan, the 5HT-like agonist for migraine which began U.S. Phase II trials earlier this year ("The Pink Sheet" March 6, T&G-2); and a calcium antagonist targeted at ischemic heart disease. Dropped from the pipeline were AH23844 (formerly known as loxtadine), an H antagonist; GR67339, an anti-psoriatic agent; and a 5HT-like agonist, GR9354.
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