Bayer turns to FDA's Steven Immergut to lead pharma comms

Steven Immergut, who has worked for the FDA since 2012 in public and external affairs roles, has been tapped by Bayer to lead pharmaceutical communications.

Bayer's US headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey
Bayer's US headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey

WHIPPANY, NJ: Bayer has brought on former Food and Drug Administration official Steven Immergut as VP and head of pharmaceutical communications.

His newly created role is based in Washington, DC, and Immergut will travel frequently to Bayer’s US headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey, the chemical and pharma giant said in a statement. His job description includes "developing and executing external and internal communication strategies for Bayer’s pharmaceutical profile in the US," Bayer said.

Immergut will report to Ray Kerins, SVP and head of communications, government relations, and policy at Bayer, and he will be a member of the company’s US communications, government relations, and policy leadership team.

Preceding Immergut’s tenure at the FDA, where he was acting associate commissioner for external affairs and before that assistant commissioner for media affairs, he worked at Booz Allen Hamilton. Before that, he was SVP and healthcare practice director in Washington, DC, at Hill & Knowlton, MD at Tonic Life Communications, and SVP at GCI Group, according to his LinkedIn account.

Early in his career, Immergut, who could not be immediately reached for comment, also worked at USAID.  

Immergut said his experience, including that at the FDA, has prepared him to stay up-to-date on industry regulations.

"Knowing the way the FDA works and knowing some of the people over there will also help," he noted. "I think one of the biggest things is understanding that the FDA is an organization, is science-based, and is not a black box – it’s a transparent, collaborative organization."

Immergut added that his role will also include outreach to stakeholder groups including the media, healthcare professionals, or patients, depending on the product.

"At the end of the day, it’s all about patients and getting them the products they need," he explained. 

The FDA has not yet filled his role on a permanent basis. Kathleen Quinn is serving as acting associate commissioner for external affairs.

In June, Bayer grew its government relations and external comms teams by hiring Brian McCullough, Mark Bennett, and Joseph Hathaway. Kerins, the former VP of external affairs and worldwide communications at Pfizer, joined Bayer in April 2013.

This story was updated on January 7 with information about how the FDA is filling the role. It was also updated with quotes from Immergut.

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