- Novo Nordisk announced Thursday morning its CEO of 16 years, Lars Rebien Sorensen, will be stepping down at the end of the year — well ahead of his contract end-date of 2019.
- The current head of Corporate Development, Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen, will step into the top spot as of January 1.
- Several other executive changes will take place immediately. Jakob Riis, current head of Region China, Pacific & Marketing, will take over as head of North America, and Jerzy Gruhn will step down from Executive Management.
"On the one hand, Novo Nordisk has never had a stronger portfolio and organization; on the other hand, we are facing an unprecedented level of payer pressure and competition," said newly minted CEO Jørgensen in a statement.
"I love challenges, and therefore I can't think of a more exciting time to be offered the job of CEO in Novo Nordisk - a company I have served for more than 25 years and am really passionate about."
Jørgensen has been with the company since 1991 in various roles including corporate development, business assurance and even a posting in Japan.
The surprise announcement from Novo Nordisk comes at a time when the company has been pushing against tough payer controls to maintain its leadership spot in the diabetes market.
Novo Nordisk has had a rough time getting coverage for some of its medications on pharmacy benefit managers' national formulary lists, despite market-leading positions.
Most notably, the company's GLP-1 Victoza (liraglutide) has been excluded from Express Scripts preferred lists. The PBM has been outspoken about working with drug makers to compromise on pricing and influence markets – implying Novo Nordisk has not been willing to play ball and negotiate down its prices enough to satisfy payers.