- Shire plc has recruited Thomas Dittrich as its chief financial officer, effective early 2018, in the second C-level post change this year for the global rare diseases biotech.
- A Swiss-German, Dittrich comes from engineering and manufacturing services and solutions company Sulzer Ltd., and previously worked at Amgen Inc., Amgen International and Dell Inc.
- Dittrich will replace Jeff Poulton; Shire announced his departure in August 2017. Poulton will be leaving Shire at the end of 2017 to join Boston agtech unicorn Indigo Ag Inc.
Shire has had a strong year financially, doubling its operating cash flow in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2016 — largely thanks to higher sales and lower payments associated with the Baxalta acquisition and integration.
The Irish company is also on track for the promised strategic review of its neuroscience franchise, and it seems to have largely recovered from manufacturing issues related to Cinryze (C1 esterase inhibitor).
Still, Shire has had a challenging past few years, with a long-drawn out (though finally successful) battle to take over Baxalta leaving the company with a pile of debt, early generic competition for Lialda (mesalamine) and potential competition looming for its hemophilia portfolio. Some analysts have indicated most investors have discounted the hemophilia franchise already — many of the drugs in the portfolio will face competition from new innovations in the space in the next few years.
Added to this, there have been some high level personnel changes. Poulton's departure was a major blow to the company and came as a shock to many investors, sending the stock down at the time of the announcement. Many felt his departure was another indication the company would not be able to pay down debt or produce organic growth as planned going forward.
Shire is positive on Dittrich's ability to help Shire transition, though.
"Thomas is a talented global executive who will bring to Shire a broad range of experiences from both inside and outside the pharmaceutical industry," said Susan Kilsby, chairman of the board at Shire. "The Board and I look forward to working with him during this transformational time in the Company’s history."