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Rumour mill intensifies around Bayer’s Brandicourt for Sanofi

Could be named Sanofi chief executive as soon as next March

Bayer Olivier Brandicourt  

Momentum seems to be building behind a rumour that Bayer's healthcare chief Olivier Brandicourt will soon be named the next chief executive at Sanofi.

Sanofi Chairman Serge Weinberg vowed recently that the successor to former CEO Chris Viehbacher - who was fired last October after clashes with the company's board of directors - would be named by the end of next March.

Brandicourt has been linked to the job a number of times since Viehbacher's departure, but a report in Le Figaro suggests a formal announcement of the succession could come as soon as this week.

As a French national, Brandicourt could avoid some of the culture clashes that supposedly plagued Viehbacher's time at Sanofi, and he has broad credentials having held leadership positions across commercial, marketing and R&D.

A physician by training, he has led Bayer's healthcare division since November 2013 - taking charge of the $14bn takeover of Merck & Co's consumer health business last year - having previously held senior positions Pfizer where he played a key role in the development of the emerging markets business.

Michael Leuchten, an analyst at Barclays Plc in London, said last month that despite a decent set of financial results for 2014 the announcement of the new CEO "is really going to be the driver of the stock performance" in the coming months.

Sanofi's next CEO will face a number of challenges, including the loss of patent protection for big-selling diabetes therapy Lantus (insulin glargine), with Lilly saying it plans to launch a biosimilar version soon. 

The company also has a potentially massive product launch coming up in alirocumab, one of the leaders in the new PCSK9 class of cholesterol-lowering drugs that have been tipped to make multibillion dollars a year in sales. 

The new CEO will also have the task of driving through Sanofi's ongoing restructuring drive, including a retreat in oncology R&D after late-stage product failures.

New autoimmune alliance

Meanwhile, away from the drama at the top, Sanofi continues to conduct business as normal and has just inked a deal with Dutch biotech Lead Pharma to develop therapies for autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease.

The two companies are focusing on developing drugs targeting a nuclear hormone receptor called ROR gamma (t), which is thought to play a key role in mediating inflammatory process by stimulating cytokines such as interleukin-17 and the receptor for interleukin-23. Lead candidates are however not due to enter the clinic for three or four years.

Article by
Phil Taylor

18th February 2015

From: Research, Sales



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