CRO top executives in a game of ‘musical chairs’
On Nov. 2, CRO Theorem Clinical Research announced it had hired John Potthoff, formerly INC’s chief operating officer, to be its president and CEO. One day before, Icon announced it had hired Stephen Cutler, president and CEO of Kendle only since May 1, to be group president of clinical research services. Culter had left INC-Kendle when the acquisition closed in July.
Analysts say this is just the ‘musical chairs’ natural order of things after such a merger in the CRO space. As John Kreger, financial analyst with William Blair, put it, “No company needs two CEOs.”
An industry source, who asked to not be named, said, “The CEO of the company doing the buying usually isn’t the CEO who loses his job.”
Another source who spoke off the record was surprised INC didn’t tap these men for other high-level positions in the company. “Big companies like that have an awful lot of divisions that need to be headed up, and INC is not quite fully staffed,” he said.
Kreger said that despite moving from president and CEO of Kendle to group president of clinical research services for Icon, Cutler did not really take a step down. “From a responsibility standpoint, it’s a step down not being a CEO anymore, but he’s going to a much bigger and historically more successful company, so it evens out.”
Potthoff succeeds James Pusey, who now becomes Theorem’s executive chairman to the board of directors.
Theorem is the new entity born when publicly traded pharmaceutical distributor Omnicare spun off its CRO holdings, selling them to equity investment firm Nautic Partners in April 2011. Pusey became president and CEO of the Omnicare CRO in 2009, tasked with fixing the ailing division and transitioning it through its spin off and sale. Pusey had previously joined MDS Pharma Services in 2006 with the same mission for its late-phase CRO operations. That job was completed in 2009, with a sale to INC.
Icon said Alan Morgan, who Cutler is replacing, “has resigned from his position... to pursue other opportunities.” Interestingly, Morgan worked with MDS’ late-phase operations before joining Icon.
Potthoff had been with INC since 2001 when Tanistry, a CNS-focused CRO he founded, was bought by the company. During his time at INC, Potthoff lead CNS therapeutics, global business development and clinical development in North America. Prior to founding Tanistry and serving as its president and CEO, Potthoff spent seven years at PPD.
Before becoming president and CEO of Kendle, Cutler had been chief operating officer of the company. Prior to that, he spent 14 years with Quintiles, where he held a variety of roles, including senior vice president of global project management and senior vice president of clinical, medical and regulatory. Before Quintiles, Cutler worked for Sandoz (now Novartis) in Australia and Europe.
Both Theorem and Icon are beefing up their ranks as well as shifting people around.
In late October, Theorem announced it had hired Adam Serody from PharmaNet to lead Thereom’s global sales, proposals and marketing organizations. He had been executive director of business development and global leader for phase IV at PharmaNet.
In early October, Icon announced Colin Stanley was taking over as president of the company’s global resourcing division following the retirement of Bill Taaffe earlier this year. Stanley previously had been chief operating officer of DOCS.