GSK names McNamara as CEO of consumer health spinout

GlaxoSmithKline has said that Brian McNamara – currently head of its three-year-old consumer health joint venture with Pfizer – will retain the top job at the business after it is hived off into a separate company next year.

The appointment, which had been expected, was confirmed in a statement by GSK’s board today. McNamara has been with GSK since 2015, when he joined the company as head of consumer health for Europe and the Americas, and previously worked for 10 years at Novartis, ultimately heading up its over-the-counter (OTC) medicines division.

GSK chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds highlighted McNamara’s experience in integrating businesses on two prior occasions – combining Novartis and GSK’s consumer health businesses and overseeing the creation of the JV with Pfizer in 2018 – as evidence that he is the best candidate to be chief executive of the demerged company.

“He is the right choice to unlock the potential of consumer healthcare as an independent company and deliver its strong prospects for sustainable sales and profit growth, high cash generation and attractive returns for shareholders,” he said.

GSK is planning to demerge and spin out the consumer health division in order to create a ‘new GSK’ business concentrating on prescription pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

The company said in a recent investor update that it will separate the businesses via a demerger of around 80% of its holding in the consumer health business, retaining a 20% stake that could be monetised later to strengthen new GSK’s balance sheet and fund pension obligations.

It has faced criticism from activist investor Elliott Management, which has been pushing for an outright sale of the business, arguing that the remaining stake created an overhang for new GSK.

The drugmaker said today that the independent consumer health company – which is expected to trade on the London Stock Exchange – would have annual sales of around £10 billion ($13.7 billion) and leading positions in the US and Chinese markets.

“I am confident we are well positioned for growth, building on our brands and innovation, with leading-edge science and human understanding, to deliver better everyday health,” said McNamara.

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