Novartis' Jimenez to step down in 2018
- After garnering a landmark approval last week, Novartis AG announced that CEO Joseph Jimenez will step down at the end of January 2018 after eight years as CEO.
- Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer Vasant Narasimhan will assume the role, beginning Feb. 1, 2018.
- "Both from a professional and a personal perspective, this is the right moment to hand the leadership reins of the company to Vas. Our strong pipeline and the strategic moves we have taken to focus the company have put Novartis on a strong path for the future. On the personal side, after 10 wonderful years in Switzerland, my family is ready to return to Silicon Valley and the U.S.,” said Jimenez in a statement on Tuesday.
Jimenez also pushed the company forward in cell therapies. First, he created a unit dedicated to the development of cell and gene therapies and then pulling that unit back into the greater Novartis structure in order to give it greater support. Novartis has lagged behind competitors in immuno-oncology, but has taken a different approach —bringing forward a CAR-T therapy instead of focusing on the PD-1 mechanism like most of the other big pharmas. Yet, Jimenez has said previously that the big pharma has a second-generation immuno-oncology portfolio that outstrips competitors.
Those bets have paid off. Last week, Novartis gained approval for the first CAR-T therapy, making it a leader in the burgeoning space. The investment in Entresto is also producing returns. While the launch of the drug was slow-going, it has begun to pick up pace and some analysts believe it could reach sales of $4.7 billion by 2021.
"I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Joe's achievements as CEO. During his tenure, Joe focused Novartis on leading global businesses, while divesting non-core divisions. Under his leadership the innovation pipeline was rejuvenated, and we successfully navigated the patent expirations of our two largest products," said Chairman Joerg Reinhardt.
Jimenez will be available as an advisor until he retires in August 2018.
New CEO Vas Narasimhan was Head of Development for Novartis Pharmaceuticals prior to his current role. Before joining Novartis in 2005, he worked at consultancy McKinsey & Company. He has a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
- Novartis Statement
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