Underscoring its increasing emphasis on oncology, Novartis is splitting its prescription drug business into two organizations and hired Paul Hudson, who heads North American operations for AstraZeneca, to lead the pharmaceutical business. The newly created oncology unit, meanwhile, will be run by Bruno Strigini, who already runs the cancer-drug business.
The move comes a year after Novartis purchased a portfolio of oncology medicines from GlaxoSmithKline as part of an asset swap. But Novartis is also contending with declining sales of its Gleevec cancer medicine, which has been a blockbuster product, and disappointing sales of its new treatment for heart failure called Entresto. Both doctors and insurers have failed to embrace the drug.
The changes at the top take effect July 1. Both Hudson and Strigini will report to Novartis Chief Executive Joe Jimenez. And as part of the overhaul, David Epstein, who headed the Novartis oncology business for six years, is leaving the company. One Wall Street analyst is not surprised by the reorganization.