Immuno-oncology race gets bloodier: BMS is suing its former executive now working for AstraZeneca

02/06/2015 - 2 minutes

Immuno-oncology has gone from a competition to a battlefield. Bristol-Meyer Squibb launched a lawsuit against David Berman, a former researcher that abruptly quit last month after 10 years working for the company’s cancer R&D division. Berman, with his deep knowledge about BMS’s immune-oncology research, headed to AstraZeneca, BMS’ principal opponent. Game on.

In this competitive world there is no consolation prize for second place. Bristol-Myers Squibb knows this all too well and it is not willing to lose this multibillion race. The company may be a leader in the immuno-oncology field, but definitely has reasons to believe that its work is threatened. The resignation of David Berman, who had a major role in BMS’s development of new checkpoint inhibitors, rang all the alarms. The oncology expert was, most recently, Head of the immuno-oncology exploratory development team in BMS and his know-how could be definitely useful for English AstraZeneca, which rapidly hired him.

According to the lawsuit, when BMS reminded Berman that he was subject to non-competition covenants,

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