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Ahead of ASCO and BIO, Michael Bailey CEO of AVEO Oncology, discusses the company becoming a LG Chem subsidiary and the future for drug development in the combined entity.
In late February, Michael Bailey, CEO of AVEO Oncology, was preparing to head from Boston to Fort Myers, Florida for an all-company meeting. A meeting that would be vastly different from previous AVEO Oncology all-company meetings because it was the first time as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Seoul, South Korea-based LG Chem.
The acquisition was announced October 2022 and closed January 19, 2023. Bailey said, “We spent the last six months working together to understand each other’s processes and systems so that as we moved forward it didn't disrupt the daily activities and the decision-making processes of either company.”
Dr. Hak-Cheol (H.C.) Shin, Chief Executive Officer of LG Chem, and Dr. Jeewoong Son, President of LG Chem Life Sciences, along with 20 LG Chem employees, joined AVEO’s 130 employees in Florida to launch the new company. “We are fully prepared to lead AVEO's growth to the next level," said CEO Shin in a press release. "Let us together make the leap to build a leading oncology company that continues to provide innovative solutions to improve the lives of cancer patients around the world.”
Shin then announced the largest-ever R&D investment plan in the Korean pharmaceutical and biotech industries in the form of more than $300 million USD investment in the integrated Life Sciences-AVEO operation. Starting from this year, LG Chem will invest more than $1.5 billion toward R&D in the Life Sciences division over the next five years. In the same release, it noted that Son discussed plans to enhance the competitiveness of AVEO’s new drug pipeline in the U.S. oncology market by developing AVEO into an innovative pharma company that consistently and continuously introduces new drugs in the broader North American market, essentially to become the leader in developing and commercializing new anti-cancer therapies.
Bailey said to PharmExec, “I would argue, what they're proposing to do and what we're executing on here, hasn't been done effectively since Genentech and Roche.” Bailey, himself a Genentech alum continued, “That deal was notable because Roche really left Genentech to continue to innovate by leveraging their expertise, while Roche provided financial resources, stability and guidance. This feels like that.”
When PharmExec last spoke with Michael Bailey in early 2021, AVEO was awaiting FDA response for (tivozanib), a kinase inhibitor, for adult patients with relapsed or refractory advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) following two or more prior systemic therapies. It received approval ahead of its PDUFA on March 10, and initiated launch for FOTIVDA 11 days later.
Bailey looks back: “There was a lot of uncertainty on the outcome….first time launch company, global pandemic, massive competition, we were the seventh [VEGFR kinase inhibitor]launching into a market.”
And apparently, AVEO did everything right. 3Q 2022 FOTIVDA highlights included:
These early successes paved the way for Bailey to ensure the company’s future and next steps.
“We thought maybe we could get [to be an oncology leader] in 10 years We didn't have a research and discovery engine or a platform, so we didn't have a way to backfill our pipeline.To achieve our desired leadership we'd have to acquire products which was going to be a longer, harder journey,” explained Bailey. Soon the market was turning a bit, and Bailey noted access to capital was closing up, so the company was in the process of exploring many various financing structures, when it was approached by LG.
In the United States, at least, “LG” is often attached to refrigerators, televisions, washers and dryers. And that is not unexpected, LG Corporation has a multitude of industries under its umbrella. According to the company’s website, it forayed into electronics a few years after. LG Chem now consists of petrochemicals, advanced materials and life sciences.
Reminiscent of the histories of the US and European chemical companies, LG Chem is taking its strengths and innovation in chemicals and laboratory research into drug development.
The LG Life Sciences Innovation Center located in Cambridge has multi-therapeutic, early-stage capabilities, including in oncology. The AVEO acquisition gives the company a larger footprint in oncology, as well as the commercialization and late-stage infrastructure. Says Bailey, “Our stated goal is to bring two to three new commercial products to market in the next five years, and that's in addition to filling out the pipeline, so we have a nice constant flow of new drugs.”
With ASCO mere days away, Bailey says, “ASCO 2023 marks a new era for the company and we encourage everyone to visit our new and exciting exhibit booth #20159. He emphasized AVEO’s desire to meet with potential partners and reminds us that AVEO will be at BIO 2023 immediately on the heels of ASCO. “BIO 2023 will be in Boston, right in our backyard. We look forward to seeing everyone there and invite you to attend our presentation here,” said Bailey.
Bailey’s passion for the larger organization he has joined, as well as his professional achievements with AVEO shows. One his personal favorites is its recent selection by the Boston Globe as a Best Place to Work in Massachusetts. The company was also selected in 2022 as a Top Ten Therapeutics Company by Life Sciences Review, and identified as a the fastest growing company in Massachusetts by Boston Business Journal.
“Whether you're doing acquisitions, or working within your company, your investigators, or talking to the patients, the most important thing is just listen. When we talk about diversity we think physical diversity….race, gender…but we cannot forget about difference in thought and perspective. And that’s what you get from listening. If you listen, you get different perspectives, you will make better decisions.”
Lisa Henderson is the Group Editorial Director of Pharmaceutical Executive.