My best wishes for the holiday season to all readers of the blog!
"A Christmas wish-list for pharmaceutical CEOs
December 19, 2007 Scrip
The past 12 months have been difficult for the industry, with health economic assessments of products becoming more rigorous, substantial job cuts and a sustained attack on intellectual property protection. So chief executives everywhere could probably think of a number of Christmas presents they would like to lighten their mood.
For most, a ream of data showing the outstanding cost benefits of their latest launched product would be just the thing. In today's increasingly cost-conscious world, it is not sufficient to have a product that reduces cholesterol dramatically or purges the body of a pathogenic virus. It is necessary, indeed vital, that these beneficial effects should be exerted in such a way that the cost of the therapy is much lower than alternative treatments.
Another welcome gift for any CEO would be a painless way of reducing costs throughout the company. The past 12 months have seen numerous firms tackling the unpleasant job of cutting jobs. They include some major players: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Amgen.
A more joined-up approach from politicians would also brighten up a CEO's Christmas. On the one hand chief executives are feted by government officials keen to have research and manufacturing facilities sited in their neck of the woods, but on the other they they are castigated by others for helping to push up the nation's healthcare costs.
...in the thick of it
In the next 12 months, there a number of therapeutic areas where CEOs would like to be in the thick of the action. These include thrombopoiesis and the prevention of thromboembolism. Indeed some companies have already embarked upon this path.
Amgen's romiplostim and GlaxoSmithKline's eltrombopag (Promacta/Revolade) are thrombopoietics which are nearing the market, while new products approaching approval that could compete with low molecular weight heparins include Bayer/Johnson & Johnson's rivaroxaban and Boehringer Ingelheim's dabigatran. Lilly's prasugrel is nearing launch as a potential competitor to the blockbuster clopidogrel.
A well-placed investment in biologic agents would similarly not go amiss. Antibody therapeutics continue to be a must-have for the modern pharmaceutical group, a point not missed by some Japanese firms. Eisai recently bought Morphotek, Astellas acquired Agensys, and Takeda announced plans to set up a new US subsidiary to conduct research on therapeutic antibodies.
...a worthy successor?
One area where a CEO probably does not need Christmas largesse is in the appointment of a successor. Numerous "CEOs in waiting" have been named over the past few months. These include Severin Schwan, the head of Roche's diagnostic division, who will succeed Dr Franz Humer as CEO of Roche in March 2008 (although Dr Humer will stay on as chairman), Andrew Witty, who will succeed Dr Jean-Pierre Garnier as CEO of GlaxoSmithKline next May, and Bernard Poussot, who becomes CEO of Wyeth at the beginning of 2008, with Robert Essner staying on as chairman for a transitional period.
Lilly has just announced that Sidney Taurel, its chairman and CEO, will retire next March, with Dr John Lechleiter, currently president and chief operating officer, becoming president and CEO on April 1st. And Shire Pharmaceuticals has reported that Matthew Emmens will step up to the chairmanship next June, with Angus Russell, currently chief financial officer, becoming CEO.
So whatever 2008 brings for these new incumbents, I would like to wish all of them, and of course the readers of Scrip, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.