One week after Johnna Rossell departed Biogen for Enzyvant, the embattled company announced that two members of its board of directors are leaving. Nancy Leaming and Brian Posner will retire from Biogen’s board of directors at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting.
Learning, who was previously president and chief executive officer of Tufts Health Plan, joined the Biogen board in 2008. Posner also joined the board at the same time. He is a private investor and founder and Managing Partner of Point Rider Group LLC. Leaming is a member of the Biogen Board’s Audit Committee and Posner serves as chair of its Compensation Management and Development Committee.
Both departing board members touted the significant growth the company has made in the past 15 years, becoming a leader in multiple sclerosis treatment and blazing a trail in Alzheimer’s disease.
“In my 15 years on the Board, Biogen has grown from a biotech in Cambridge to a global company that has pioneered life-changing therapies for the most complex devastating neurodegenerative diseases, including the first treatment for spinal muscular atrophy and most recently, the first anti-amyloid beta medicine in Alzheimer’s disease,” Posner said. He added that over the past 15 years, Biogen has “built one of the industry’s most diversified pipelines in neuroscience.”
Learning also touted the significant growth at the company, saying Biogen remains steadfast in its goals to deliver meaningful therapeutics for patients and continue to be a leader in neuroscience.
“For nearly 15 years, Nancy and Brian have played important roles on our Board, guiding Biogen in its mission of pioneering therapies that make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of people worldwide,” Stelios Papadopoulos, Ph.D., chairman of the Biogen board of directors said in a statement. “In particular, Biogen has benefitted from Nancy’s deep experience as a leader in the insurance space and her insights into the healthcare reimbursement and payor market. We have relied on Brian’s significant management and financial expertise, coupled with his commitment to sustainability. We are grateful to Nancy and Brian for their invaluable contributions during their many years of service and wish them both the very best.”
The company announcement provided no particular reason for the departure of the two. However, the report does follow several high-profile executive exits at the Boston-based company. In addition to Rossell, who served as the global commercial lead for Alzheimer’s at Biogen, Alfred Sandrock, the former head of R&D at Biogen, retired from the company at the end of 2021. In addition to those executive departures, Biogen is also rumored to be planning a massive layoff of approximately 1,000 employees.
These changes at Biogen are coming on the heels of the controversial approval of the company’s Alzheimer’s treatment, Aduhelm, the first therapeutic for the devastating disease in about 20 years. Since the approval in June, Aduhelm has reportedly seen a slower-than-expected rollout. Sales were sluggish in its first months on the market. At the end of 2021, Biogen announced that it was cutting the annual wholesale price of Aduhelm in half, from $56,000 to $28,200. With more than 3 million people in the United States with Alzheimer’s, the original price point was a concern for the federal government because most patients were covered by Medicare.