Just one week after being the first biopharmaceutical company to be granted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a CAR-T immunotherapy, Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez has announced he will be giving up his position in 2018. The company has already announced his successor: Dr. Vasant (Vas) Narasimhan, currently the Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation for Joe’s achievements as CEO,” said Joerg Reinhardt, Chairman of the Novartis Board of Directors, in a press release about the change in leadership. “During his tenure, Joe focused Novartis on leading global businesses, while divesting non-core divisions.”
Reinhardt goes on to say that Jimenez’ leadership helped Novartis get through the patent expirations of two large products. Diovan, a hypertension medication, and Gleevec, a drug used to treat blood cancer, brought in $10.4 billion in sales each year before their patents expired between 2012 and 2016.
“Both from a professional and a personal perspective, this is the right moment to hand the leadership reins of the company to Vas,” said Jimenez, noting that he and his family would be moving from Novartis’ headquarters in Switzerland back to Silicon Valley in the US. Our strong pipeline and the strategic moves we have taken to focus the company have put Novartis on a strong path for the future.”
Jimenez first joined Novartis in 2007 as the head of the Consumer Health Division. He later went on to become the Division Head for the company, before taking over the position of CEO in 2010.
Unlike his predecessor, Narasimhan holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and has served as Head of Development for Novartis. He also worked as Global Head of Novartis’ biosimilars business unit, Sandoz.
“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,” said Reinhardt. “As a physician, he has a strong patient focus and a genuine humane perspective and care for the mission and values of Novartis.”
Narasimhan will take over as CEO as of February 1, 2018. As for Jimenez, he’ll remain as an advisor to the Board of Directors of Novartis until his official retirement date of August 31, 2018.
“We will continue our legacy of bringing leading innovation to patients around the world,” said Narasimhan. “With our recent launches, our strong pipeline, broad capabilities, world-class leadership team, and committed people, I am very confident about our future.”