Sanofi appoints former Novartis exec Hudson as CEO

Sanofi has appointed Novartis’ pharma chief Paul Hudson as chief executive to replace the retiring Olivier Brandicourt, prompting a reshuffle for its Swiss rival.

At the same time, Novartis named Marie-France Tschudin as head of its pharmaceuticals business to replace Hudson.

Hudson will be expected to continue the work of Brandicourt, who had been in charge of Sanofi since 2015 and was hired to help revive the French pharma.

The company has been hit by cheaper biosimilar competition to its big-selling insulin Lantus (insulin glargine), and under his tenure has sold its animal health unit to Boehringer Ingelheim, and its European generics arm to private equity firm Advent International.

While Sanofi’s diabetes business is still under pressure, it has had notable success with its Dupixent (dupilumab), a potential blockbuster that is FDA-approved in eczema and asthma.

Cost-cutting measures and other new launches have seen Sanofi return to profit in the second half of last year.

However under Brandicourt’s watch Sanofi was outbid on two acquisition targets – Pfizer snapped up the US cancer biotech Medivation in 2016, while Johnson & Johnson won out in its attempts to land the Swiss rare diseases biotech Actelion in 2017.

Hudson will take up his new job on 1st September, on the basis of his experience in management in pharmaceuticals, and his digital expertise, according to Reuters.

Paul Hudson

He had been CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals since 2016, after working through the ranks at pharma companies like Schering Plough and AstraZeneca.

Meanwhile at Novartis, Tschudin has been promoted after joining Novartis through one of its hottest acquisitions, Advanced Accelerator Applications (AAA).

Novartis bought AAA in 2017 for $3.9 billion, which developed the nuclear medicine Lutathera for treatment of the rare cancer neuroendocrine tumours.

Tschudin takes over at a time when Novartis is focusing its pharma unit on cutting-edge therapies such as CAR-T cell therapies for cancer, and highly expensive gene therapies.

While the company’s traditional pharma offering has been performing well thanks to drugs such as Cosentyx for psoriasis, getting complex therapies such as CAR-T to market has proved to be a challenge because of logistical issues and their high prices.

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