Novartis to split pharmaceuticals division into two business units

Novartis on Tuesday announced that it will split its pharmaceuticals division into two business units named Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Oncology. As part of the change, effective July 1, the drugmaker said that current Novartis Pharmaceuticals CEO David Epstein will leave the company. Meanwhile, Novartis indicated that AstraZeneca's current North America executive vice president Paul Hudson will serve as CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, while current Novartis Oncology head Bruno Strigini will lead the oncology business unit. 

"The new structure reflects the importance of oncology to Novartis following the successful integration of the oncology assets acquired from [GlaxoSmithKline]," the Swiss drugmaker explained, adding that the change is epected "to help drive our growth and innovation strategy, with an increased focus and improved execution for both the Novartis Oncology and Novartis Pharmaceuticals business units." 

Novartis Pharmaceuticals will include the drugmaker's neuroscience, ophthalmology, immunology and dermatology, respiratory, cardio-metabolic and established medicines franchises. Meanwhile, the Novartis Oncology business unit will comprise the company's oncology and cell and gene therapies franchises. Novartis said that both Hudson and Strigini will be based at the global headquarters of its innovative medicines division in Basel, Switzerland and report directly to CEO Joseph Jimenez. 

Additionally, Novartis explained that Epstein was leaving the company to pursue opportunities in the US. "We would like to thank [Epstein] for his substantial contribution to the development and growth of Novartis and its people over many years," commented Jimenez, adding "he built our leading oncology business and over the last six years has steered our pharmaceuticals division through a period of excellence in innovation, execution and improved financial results." 

Meanwhile, Epstein has been rumoured as a possible replacement for outgoing GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty, who announced his intention to retire by the end of March next year. For related analysis, read ViewPoints: Novartis splits – and its pharma head goes where?

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