- Gilead on Wednesday revealed its latest C-suite addition, with Bristol-Myers Squibb veteran Johanna Mercier taking on the role of chief commercial officer effective July 1.
- Mercier was most recently president of Bristol-Myer's large markets division, which includes coverage areas like Germany, Japan and the U.S. As she joins Gilead, Laura Hamill, executive vice president of the big biotech's worldwide commercial operations, will be leaving. The timeframe for her departure wasn't disclosed.
- Hamill's appointment came last August, several months before Daniel O'Day left Roche to serve as Gilead's CEO. In the time since he took over, Gilead has also seen the departures of its chief financial officer and head of oncology — though the company noted the latter was unrelated to O'Day coming onboard.
Gilead's top ranks have changed considerably over the last couple years amid plummeting revenue.
At their peak, the company's hepatitis C drugs Harvoni (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir) and Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) were bringing in around $6 billion in a three-month span. But more recently, its entire hep C portfolio has been fetching less than $1 billion a quarter.
The problems haven't been exclusive to hep C either.
While HIV drugs continue to buoy Gilead's larger business, competition with rival GlaxoSmithKline appears to be intensifying. And in areas like cell therapy and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, the biotech has reported modest product sales or clinical setbacks.
As it tried to mount a turnaround, Gilead watched two CEOs step down between 2016 and 2018. The company is hoping third time's the charm with O'Day, a longtime Roche executive and former head of the drug giant's pharmaceuticals division.
O'Day has only been on the job a few months, but already things are changing. On a first quarter earnings call, it was revealed that Kite Pharma — which Gilead bought for $12 billion in 2017 — would begin operating as its own business within the larger company, equipped with its own CEO who reports directly to O'Day.
Gilead said on the call it was in the process of searching for a Kite CEO.
With Wednesday's announcement, Gilead has more fresh blood on its executive team.
"Johanna has the skills to continue to strengthen our performance and position Gilead for long-term success," O'Day said in a May 29 statement.
"She is a talented leader with a deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry, across therapeutic markets and geographies, as well as a proven ability to input the commercial perspective into development strategies," he added.
It remains unclear whether Hamill's exit is an amicable one. The May 29 statement didn't include any quote from her, nor did it say what plans she has after Gilead.
"I would like to personally thank Laura for her commitment to Gilead as we work through this period of transition and, on behalf of the company, wish her the best in her future endeavors," O'Day said.
Gilead shares were down 1.5% by late Wednesday morning. They have fallen about 6.5% year to date.