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Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez to step down

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Vasant Narasimhan to become chief executive in early 2018

BASEL, Switzerland — Novartis chief executive officer Joseph Jimenez plans to retire from the company next year, to be succeeded by drug development chief Vasant Narasimhan.

Joseph Jimenez_Novartis

Joseph Jimenez

Plans call for Jimenez to step down on Jan. 31, 2018, and for Narasimhan, who is global head of drug development and chief medical officer at Novartis, to take the CEO reins at the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giant on Feb. 1.

“Both from a professional and a personal perspective, this is the right moment to hand the leadership reins of the company to Vas,” Jimenez said in a statement. “Our strong pipeline and the strategic moves we have taken to focus the company have put Novartis on a strong path for the future. On the personal side, after 10 wonderful years in Switzerland, my family is ready to return to Silicon Valley and the U.S.. I’m confident that Vas will be an excellent successor.”

Jimenez has served as Novartis CEO since 2010. He joined the company in 2007 as division head of Novartis Consumer Health and later became division head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Before coming to Novartis, he was president and CEO of the North American and European businesses for H.J. Heinz Co. He also served on the board of directors of Colgate-Palmolive Co. from 2009 to 2015 and of AstraZeneca plc from 2002 to 2007.

Novartis said Jimenez will provide counsel and support at the request of the chairman or the CEO until he retires from the company on Aug. 31, 2018.

“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Joe’s achievements as CEO. During his tenure, Joe focused Novartis on leading global businesses, while divesting noncore divisions,” stated Novartis chairman Joerg Reinhardt. “Under his leadership the innovation pipeline was rejuvenated, and we successfully navigated the patent expirations of our two largest products. We anticipate a smooth transition as Joe built a strong leadership team and mentored his successor. Novartis will be well-positioned to continue its momentum.”

Vasant Narasimhan_Novartis

Vasant Narasimhan

A member of the executive committee, Narasimhan joined Novartis in 2005 and has served as global head of drug development and chief medical officer since Feb. 1, 2016. Prior to his current role, he was head of development for Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

“I would like to congratulate Joe and express my gratitude to Joe, Joerg and the board of directors. I feel honored and humbled to be asked to lead Novartis,” Narasimhan commented. “We will continue our legacy of bringing leading innovation to patients around the world. With our recent launches, our strong pipeline, broad capabilities, world-class leadership team and committed people, I am very confident about our future.”

In addition, Narasimhan previously served as global head of the Sandoz Biopharmaceuticals and Oncology Injectables business unit, overseeing the division’s biosimilars pipeline, and as global head of development for Novartis Vaccines. He also has held commercial and strategic roles at Novartis, including North America regional head for Novartis Vaccines and U.S. country president for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. Narasimhan came to Novartis from McKinsey & Co.

“Vas is deeply anchored in medical science, has significant experience in managing the interfaces between research-and-development and commercial units and has strong business acumen with a track record of outstanding achievements,” Reinhardt added. “As a physician, he has a strong patient focus and a genuine humane perspective and care for the mission and values of Novartis. As a result, the Board of Directors is confident that Vas is the right choice to lead Novartis on our expected next growth phase, driving innovation and further strengthening our competitive position.”


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