Pierre-Alain Ruffieux new CEO of Lonza
New leader to execute Covid vaccine pact
Pierre-Alain Ruffieux has been appointed CEO of Swiss CDMO Lonza, with effect from 1 November 2020. The new chief executive will succeed Marc Funk, who led the company from March to November 2019 following the departure of Richard Ridinger. The latter held the position from April 2012 until the end of February 2019.
Ruffieux currently heads of global pharma technical operations at Roche, where he and his 12,000-member team oversee all aspects of pharmaceutical commercial manufacturing and supply chain operations, including technical, quality assurance and regulatory functions.
Before his term at Roche, the new Lonza appointee spent 12 years at Novartis , before joining Roche in 2015, and can look back on more than 20 years’ experience in biopharmaceuticals.
With ”unrivalled experience” in manufacturing and process excellence at two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, supervisory board chairman Albert Baehny said Ruffieux will also be a great asset to the Lonza group.
In November, Baehny will step down as CEO ad interim and return to his role as non-executive chairman.
New chief to execute vaccine pact with Moderna
One of Ruffieux’s tasks will be executing Lonza's 10-year contract to help Moderna make its, mRNA-1273, the US biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, US pharma trade journal Fierce Pharma said, commenting on the Swiss appointment.
The Lonza-Moderna partnership hopes to start batch production of active components of the vaccine in July, when Moderna expects to start a large-scale phase 3 trial with 30,000 participants.
As part of its arrangement with Moderna, Lonza is moving quickly to get two planned commercial production on stream to make the necessary doses. One of the lines, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, could be completed this, a second at Visp, Switzerland, is by December, Baehny recently told the Reuters news agency.
The board chairman said Lonza is spending $60-70 million on the first Visp line, with Moderna footing the bill for the first US line and potentially three more. The goal is to make enough ingredients for 600 million to 1 billion doses of the vaccine annually.
Another major decision Ruffieux will make, observers noted, is the future of Lonza’s chemicals business, where growth clearly lags the custom drugs segment. The activities have been spun off into a standalone unit pending a decision on whether to sell or keep.