NEW HAVEN: Leonard Bell Co-founded Alexion Pharmaceuticals [Nasdaq: Alxn] in 1992 in a small lab in New Havens’ Science Park with Stephen Squinto Ph.D. and David Keiser. Today as Bell announces his retirement as Chairman, [ he retired as CEO in April of 2015] the company has a market capitalization of $29 billion and occupies the signature building in downtown New Haven housing more than 1,000 employees. Keiser retired as president in 2008 as president and Squinto as Executive VP in 2014.
Dr. Bell's efforts were first covered in Business New Haven in 1994 and he was recognized as a greater New Haven Healthcare Hero in 2011. Bell said of his departure and the future, “I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved over the past 25 years, and I have great confidence in the future of the company.. I am very much looking forward to spending increasing time with my family, and also exploring new and different opportunities.”
Alexion drug development has been toward rare diseases, but it still has been among the fastest growing and most successful start ups in Connecticut history. In 2008 when Keiser retired, Alexion had sales of $76 million, 2016 sales were $3.1 billion. As CEO, Bell engineered two major acquisitions in 2015 to diversify the company’s drug pipeline, totalling nearly $10 billion dollars in purchase costs, a gamble on two drugs that had not received final FDA approval.
[see The Future is Suddenly Uncertain and The News is Not Completely Good ] the drugs Strensiq and Kanuma did receive approvals and while reportedly off to a slow start, are expected to eventually produce sales of more than $1.5 billion.
With a new headquarters, hefty profits, and more than $3 billion in sales, 2016 was to be the best year ever as Bell contemplated his retirement. A controversy and an internal investigation in November, led to questions about financial controls and the resignation of the company’s CEO and CFO.
In response to the allegation and investigations, Alexion stock began to tank and two class action lawsuits were filed. By early January the company had an interim CEO, David Brennan a board member and former CEO of Pharma giant AstraZeneca and it satisfied itself no material effect were caused by the shortcomings.
Before founding Alexion, Bell was an attending physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital and assistant professor of Medicine and Pathology at the Yale University School of Medicine. Bell’s current stock ownership of the company has a value of approximately $50 million.