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Schultz takes Lundbeck helm after leaving Novo Nordisk

Former executive left Danish firm just days ago

Kaare Schultz 

Lundbeck has appointed former Novo Nordisk executive Kåre Schultz as its president and chief executive as it looks ahead to an "uncertain" period.

Schultz joins Lundbeck from fellow Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk, which he left a few days ago after rumours that he was being groomed to take over the top job from Lars Rebien Sørensen proved unfounded. His departure coincided with an announcement that Sørensen would remain Novo Nordisk's CEO until 2019.

Lundbeck's new CEO will take office on May 20, ending several months in which Lundbeck was without a CEO following the resignation of Ulf Wiinberg last November for breaching the company's code of conduct.

Schultz' appointment comes as Lundbeck swung to a net loss in the first quarter of 2015, on the back of a slip in revenues to 3.56bn Danish kroner ($536m) thanks to continued generic competition to Alzheimer's therapy Ebixa (memantine) and antidepressant Cipralex (escitalopram).  The company lost 81m kroner during the quarter, reversing a profit of 331m kroner a year ago.

Lundbeck says it is facing "a period with an unusual number of uncertain variables" including the roll-out of a new generation of products, the timing and degree of generic erosion to older drugs and exchange rate fluctuations. 

"With his unique experience from an impressive career in the pharmaceutical industry, Kåre Schultz has all the qualifications to handle the challenges Lundbeck faces," said Lundbeck's chairman Håkan Bjorklund.

Some of the central nervous system (CNS) drug developer's newer products showed encouraging signs in the first quarter, with sales of depot schizophrenia drug Abilify Maintena (aripiprazole) almost quadrupling to 120m kroner and antidepressant Brintellix (vortioxetine) adding another 98m kroner, up from 8m kroner a year ago. 

Brintellix has now been launched in 20 countries and while uptake is "still limited outside the Nordic countries and the Netherlands," according to Lundbeck, it is showing some encouraging signs in the likes of Poland, Sweden and Denmark. Newly launched alcohol dependency drug Selincro (nalmefene) added 41m kroner to the pot.

The company's newer drugs will need to pick up the pace to offset the impact of genericisation however, given that Cipralex sales slumped 47% to 812m kroner.

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th May 2015

From: Regulatory

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