Biogen announced Tuesday that its R&D chief is leaving for a venture capital firm and CEO job, only six months after the high-profile failure of the company’s Alzheimer’s drug. His duties will be taken over by Al Sandrock, Biogen’s chief medical officer, who has become more synonymous with Biogen (BIIB) than any other executive. In the end, that could be a good thing.
Investors who already doubt Biogen’s ability to build for the future will only get more skittish, of course. Analysts at J.P. Morgan wrote that the announcement “does little to instill confidence in the company’s R&D outlook/direction.” And Sandrock’s presence won’t do anything to ease indigestion caused by the general feeling that Biogen bet too much on the failed Alzheimer’s medicine, aducanumab, and did not hedge enough against that failure — even though every Alzheimer’s drug tested in the past decade has proved ineffective.