AstraZeneca chief medical officer Sean Bohen to depart: report

AstraZeneca's chief medical officer Sean Bohen plans to depart the drugmaker after its transitions to a new structure unveiled earlier this month, Bloomberg reported Sunday. As part of the restructuring, former Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center physician-in-chief José Baselga will head the company’s newly created oncology R&D unit, while Mene Pangalos, who previously held responsibility for AstraZeneca's innovative medicines and early development biotech segment, will lead the drugmaker's biopharmaceuticals R&D unit.

The news of Bohen's departure, which Bloomberg said was disclosed by a company spokesman, follows the recent announcement that executives Mark Mallon and Bahija Jallal were leaving AstraZeneca to become the CEOs of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Immunocore, respectively. Additionally, Ludovic Helfgott, formerly AstraZeneca's head of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, will join Novo Nordisk as executive vice president of its biopharma unit in April. 

The news additionally comes after a report in November said that AstraZeneca had initiated succession planning for CEO Pascal Soriot in response to shareholder pressure. Soriot, who was previously rumoured to be leaving AstraZeneca for Teva, has stressed that he has no plans to leave the company in the near term.

"I would not reorganise the company if I thought in the next 12 to 18 months I was going to leave," Soriot remarked last week, adding "I would give this to my successor to do."

Wolfe Research analyst Tim Anderson has noted that although the recent departures do not indicate a pending R&D crisis or forthcoming bad news for AstraZeneca, "the optics of having respected leaders leave a company are never good."

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