Olivier Brandicourt, M.D., the chairman and CEO of Bayer HealthCare and an executive council member at parent Bayer, has been appointed Sanofi’s new CEO, effective April 2.
Dr. Brandicourt, 59, is a 28-year pharma industry veteran who succeeds Christopher Viehbacher, ousted by Sanofi’s board on October 29 following differences about the company’s performance and his management style.
Viehbacher was booted a day after he warned that Sanofi’s core diabetes business would likely remain flat next year even though it grew 8.3% year-over-year during Q3 2014, to €1.799 billion ($2.034 billion).
The diabetes business fared even better during Q4 2014, rising 11% to €2.024 billion ($2.289 billion), helping lift full-year 2014 diabetes sales to €7.273 billion ($8.224 billion), up 12% from 2013. Interim CEO Serge Weinberg, who continues as chairman of Sanofi’s board, said in November that diabetes sales between 2015-2018 would be “flat to slightly growing”.
Going forward, the diabetes business faces challenges that include warding off future price cuts in the U.S. as well as renewed competition from Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly. In his final conference call as CEO, Viehbacher acknowledged that Sanofi had to lower the price of Lantus to payors in order to ensure that the once-daily basal insulin was included in insurers’ formularies in 2015.
While Lantus lost patent exclusivity for its active ingredient this month, Sanofi expects to launch a new formulation of the basal insulin, Toujeo this year. Toujeo is one of six new drugs Sanofi expects to launch this year alone, and one of 18 new drugs set to be launched through the year 2020, generating a projected combined €30 billion ($33.9 billion) in new sales.
The first 2015 launch came earlier this month when Sanofi brought to the U.S. market Afrezza®, a rapid-acting inhaled insulin therapy through a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement with developer MannKind.
Before joining Bayer HealthCare, Dr. Brandicourt served as a member of Pfizer’s executive leadership team, heading the emerging markets and established products business units as president and general manager. He also headed Pfizer’s global specialty business unit until 2009, and its primary care unit until 2012. Earlier at Pfizer, he led its cardiology business in the U.S. market, as well as regional operations that included Latin America, Eastern and Southern Europe, and the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Dr. Brandicourt started his pharma industry career as a medical director for Africa at Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert. He held other senior roles in medical and marketing before being appointed head of the company’s Canada operations.
A physician by training, Dr. Brandicourt spent eight years with the Institute of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris with a focus on malaria research in West and Central Africa. He also spent two years in the Republic of Congo as a doctor.
“Olivier Brandicourt’s strong experience combined with his international profile, deep knowledge of U.S. and emerging healthcare markets, and his capability to unite teams will provide new dynamism to Sanofi’s strategy of diversification and innovation,” Serge Weinberg, chairman of Sanofi’s board of directors, said in a statement.