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GSK's vaccines head Moncef Slaoui will retire next year

He will continue as a director until March and an advisor until June 2017

GSKGlaxoSmithKline will lose another senior figure next year, with former R&D chief Moncef Slaoui planning to retire from the firm next June.

Slaoui will remain on GSK's board of director until the end of March 2017 - when chief executive Sir Andrew Witty is also due to step down - and will then stay on in an advisory capacity until 30 June.

He has been with the company since 1988, and has served as a board member since he was named R&D director in 2006, staying in that role for eight years.

According to a Bloomberg report, leadership of the vaccines business will now transfer to Luc Debruyne, who is currently president of the unit reporting to Slaoui.

Slaoui took over responsibility for GSK's vaccines unit in 2014 in order to oversee the integration of Novartis' vaccine assets, absorbed by the company last year as part of an asset-swap for GSK's cancer portfolio.

GSK chairman Philip Hampton said: "On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Moncef for his great contribution to the company.”

He added that Slaoui has been "personally involved in the discovery and development of some of our most innovative vaccines and spearheaded the overhaul of GSK's pharmaceutical R&D."

Slaoui has been credited with overhauling GSK's R&D engine and driving improvements in productivity, boosting the number of new drugs and vaccines coming through the pipeline, including interleukin-5 inhibitor Nucala (mepolizumab) for severe asthma, shingles vaccine Shingrix, sirukumab for rheumatoid arthritis and daprodustat for anaemia.

The company said last year that recent product launches and new drugs in its 40-candidate clinical pipeline will contribute at least £6bn to sales in 2020.

The departure of another GSK veteran comes at a time when the search for a new CEO goes on and as the company is being pressured by some investors to consider a break-up, for example by hiving off its consumer health and/or vaccine divisions.

Earlier this year, pharma industry specialist John Lyon of Warwick Business School said that the company was not returning the results it should and "appears sleepy", suggesting that like many big pharma companies GSK needs to "re-engineer itself".

Not all investors have agreed with GSK's strategy of bulking up in low-margin businesses like consumer health and vaccines and - with the departure of Slaoui - GSK will lose another proponent of that strategy.

Article by
Phil Taylor

15th June 2016

From: Research



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