Novartis changes leadership as CEO Joseph Jimenez announces his 2018 retirement in favour of chief drug developer Vasant Narasimhan. As Ciara Lee reports, Novartis has been criticised for missing the first wave of promising cancer immunotherapy drugs and billions in sales.
A fresh dose of leadership for Swiss drugmaker Novartis. Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez will retire in 2018 following a decade at the helm. With chief drug developer Vasant Narasimhan taking over in February. Last week Jimenez secured U.S. approval for a new gene therapy for leukemia. And he's forecasting the firm will return to sales growth in 2018 When 41 year old Narasimhan will take control. He's among a new generation of younger leaders at Novartis wanting to improve the process in which drugs move from research to actually becoming a commercial product. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) THINK MARKETS, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, NAEEM ASLAM, SAYING: "I think he is the right man because what a CEO needs to do is increase the value for the shareholder, bring new products on line. And then also streamline the process. So the new person who would be in charge, you would be able to do that, because if you look at the revenue from the leading drugs from the firm they aren't really performing well." Novartis has been criticised for missing the first wave of promising cancer immunotherapy drugs and billions in sales. Under Jimenez's tenure, Novartis has largely dismantled previous plans to build a European healthcare giant (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) THINK MARKETS, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST, NAEEM ASLAM, SAYING: "He has done some great work for the firm because if you look at the stock performance, it's up eight percent... And really, well if you compare that to the pharmaceutical index they are up 13 percent. So not a relatively great performance." The loss of patent protection for Novartis's top-selling blood cancer drug led to stagnating sales. And problems at the company's eye care unit have also proved a headache.