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Former Nycomed CEO Hakan Bjorklund to chair Lundbeck

Mats Pettersson to step down in March

Hakan BjorklundLundbeck chairman Mats Pettersson has said he will not seek re-election at the company's annual general meeting on March 21, 2013.

Pettersson has been in the role for two years and looks likely to be replaced by independent board member Hakan Bjorklund - who has agreed to step up to the chairman position and has the backing of the Danish company's board of directors.

Bjorklund has been a member of the board at Lundbeck since March 2011 and was formerly chief executive of Denmark's Nycomed before it was taken over by Japanese pharma group Takeda.

News of the switch comes as Lundbeck is in the midst of a difficult period precipitated by the loss of patent protection on the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) and Alzheimer's treatment Ebixa (memantine) in the US, where they are sold by partner Forest Laboratories.

Lundbeck faces even more difficult times ahead when escitalopram loses patent protection next year in Europe, where it is sold as Cipralex, while the company is also facing patent expiries for Parkinson's disease treatment Azilect (rasagline) from 2015.

At a time when bringing new products through the pipeline is the clear priority, Bjorklund's R&D experience - including a long stint as head of research at Astra AB (now AstraZeneca) - seems to be a good option.

The company could secure US approval for a long-acting depot formulation of its Otsuka-partnered schizophrenia drug Abilify (aripiprazole) by the end of this month, but the highlight in the pipeline is its new-generation antidepressant Brintellix (vortioxetine) which could be launched later in the year.

Following behind are two other phase III candidates - brexpiprazole for schizophrenia and clotbuster desmoteplase - that if successful could also help the company recover from its patent cliff.

"Lundbeck holds a unique and strong position in the development of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of brain disorders, which is one of the greatest health challenges of the 21st century," says Bjorklund.

"I look forward to contributing to Lundbeck's progress and future growth in my role as chairman."

20th February 2013

From: Sales

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