CMO Nathwani out as Sanofi’s Hudson slims top executive team

The revamp of French drugmaker Sanofi under new chief executive Paul Hudson has filtered up to top management, with four senior figures leaving the company.

The move comes shortly after Hudson revealed plans to reduce the executive committee headcount from 14 to 10 to help speed up decision-making at the firm.

Top of the exit list is Sanofi’s chief medical officer – Ameet Nathwani – who was elevated to that role in 2016 and was also made chief digital officer a year ago.

Hudson said on the company’s fourth-quarter results call that Sanofi had fallen “a little bit behind in our agenda on the digital understanding and language capability internally” when it came to digital, implying that was in part because of the dual role with the CMO.

The other departures are head of primary care Dieter Weinand, business transformation lead Dominique Carouge and head of external affairs Kathleen Tregoning, according to a Bloomberg report.

Nathwani was billed as Sanofi’s first chief digital officer when he took over the position last year, and under his watch the company joined forces with Google to set up a  virtual innovation lab, aiming to transform how future drugs and services are delivered using the power of data technology.

It also opened a manufacturing facility in the US, saying it was one of the world’s first facilities to use digital continuous biologics production technology. Hudson suggested that the chief digital officer role will be one that will be retained – presumably with a new hire.

Another aim of the executive shake-up is to “allocate more of our central expertise into our business units and increase the accountability,” according to the CEO.

The departures come against a backdrop of dramatic change at Sanofi under Hudson, with a restructuring of its business that analysts suggest could cut around €2 billion off its annual cost base.

With sales in its big diabetes franchise on the slide, the new CEO took the bold decision late last year to axe R&D in this area – as well as cardiovascular disease – in order to focus on more promising areas like cancer, immunology, vaccines and rare blood disorders.

That shift has also been reflected in recent deals such as its $2.5 billion takeover of US oncology drug developer Synthorx, as well as a review of its consumer health operations that could lead to a spin-out of the business.

Sanofi has also shifted down on a longstanding R&D alliance with US biopharma Regeneron which has yielded a number of key products like atopic dermatitis and asthma blockbuster Dupixent (dupilumab), as well as less successful brands like cholesterol antibody Praluent (alirocumab).

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