Alexion's CEO, CFO step down; David Brennan named interim chief executive

Alexion Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that its board of directors has named former AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan as interim chief executive of the company, replacing David Hallal, who "resigned for personal reasons," effective immediately. The board also said its chief financial officer Vikas Sinha has "left Alexion to pursue other opportunities," with David Anderson appointed as his successor. 

Alexion indicated that it hired a search firm to identify a permanent replacement for Hallal. Shares in the company fell more than 16 percent on news of the executive departures.

"This transition comes at a time of great strength and momentum," commented board chairman Leonard Bell, adding "we have three highly effective therapies and a robust rare disease pipeline [and] are well-positioned for sustainable growth." Brennan, who has been a member of Alexion's board since 2014, said he accepted the request for him to serve as interim CEO "without hesitation because I believe strongly in this company."

Meanwhile, Alexion also provided an update regarding an internal probe into its marketing practices for Soliris (eculizumab) that was recentlylaunched in response to allegations made by a former employee. The drugmaker said the "investigation is nearing completion," and that "at this point in time, [the investigating committee] has not identified any facts that require the company to update its previously reported historical results." Alexion indicated that it expects to file its third-quarter report, which was delayed as a result of the probe, by the end of January 2017, while fourth-quarter results and 2017 guidance are expected in February.

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Commenting on the news, Piper Jaffray Co. analyst Joshua Schimmer stated that Alexion's outlook remains strong provided the probe does not identify evidence of impropriety. Schimmer added that Alexion's remarks "further [support] our view that the company does not face dire straits from whatever is going on behind the scenes." 

For related analysis, see ViewPoints: Time for Alexion's newbies to step up and ViewPoints: Alexion kerfuffle much ado about nothing – right? See also Spotlight On: What the devil is going on with Alexion? – the five key questions.

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