Booth leaving Human Genome for MedImmune He'll be president, chief operating officer at second Md. firm, too


September 16, 1998|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Melvin D. Booth, Human Genome Sciences president and chief operating officer for the past three years, has resigned that post to be president and chief operating officer of another Maryland biotechnology star, MedImmune Inc.

Rockville-based Human Genome said yesterday that William A. Haseltine, chairman and chief executive officer, will assume Booth's duties when he departs. Booth is expected to assume his post at MedImmune by Nov. 13, said MedImmune spokesman Mark Kaufmann.

"Booth has the marketing experience and caliber we need to take us to the next level as a growing biotechnology company," Kaufmann said.

Before joining Human Genome in July 1995, Booth was president of U.S. operations for Syntex Inc., which has $1 billion in annual sales and is now owned by pharmaceutical giant, Roche Holding Ltd. He also held a number of other senior management positions at Syntex.

Wayne T. Hockmeyer, chairman and chief executive officer at MedImmune, said Booth was hired because of his experience in running large, profitable pharma ceutical operations and his extensive contacts in the pharmaceutical business. Booth joins Gaithersburg-based MedImmune as it gears up with marketing partner Abbott Laboratories to begin sales of Synagis, its vaccine to prevent respiratory syncytial virus. The infection strikes about 90,000 children annually in the United States and kills 4,500 a year.

Some industry analysts believe that the product could emerge as a "blockbuster," with global sales exceeding $500 million.

With Synagis, MedImmune has three drugs on the market. The company has posted several profitable quarters and is building a manufacturing plant in Frederick.

Haseltine said that while Human Genome will miss Booth, he understood Booth's desire to take a leadership role at a company with a number of drug products already approved for marketing.

Human Genome has no approved drug products, but has two experimental therapies in human trials, including one to speed wound healing and another to prevent the adverse effects of chemotherapy on blood cell production.

"We have nothing but warm feelings for Mel and wish him all the best at MedImmune. This is a very amicable parting," said Haseltine.

Haseltine said Human Genome planned to evaluate its manage

ment needs after Booth's departure, but said that in his view the company continues to have a strong leadership team with top talent in financial management and research.

Booth said he was proud to have played a role in helping Human Genome shift from being a company focused strictly on genetic research to expanding into the area of drug development, and expanding its R&D alliances with a number of major drug companies.

David Mott, president and chief operating officer at MedImmune, will become vice chairman and chief financial officer, and will focus on corporate strategy.

Pub Date: 9/16/98

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