Another High Profile Departure at GSK as Vaccines Head Luc Debruyne Plans to Leave the Company


More management changes are happening at GlaxoSmithKline. This morning the company said longtime senior executive Luc Debruyne, currently the head of vaccines, is stepping down from his role at the end of the year.

In its announcement this morning, GSK did not provide a reason for Debruyne’s departure, nor did its short statement include a comment from the long-time employee. Debruyne’s abrupt exit though is part of a pattern of high profile departures from the company since Emma Walmsley took over as chief executive officer. Taking Debruyne’s place as president of the vaccine division is Roger Connor, currently head of the company’s global manufacturing and supply. Connor will assume his new role on Sept. 1, the company announced. Of Connor, GSK said he has a “proven track record of leading a complex, global organization, developing organizational capability and driving cultural transformation.”

Also this morning, GSK announced Regis Simard has been named president of the company’s pharmaceutical supply chain.  

Over the course of his 27 years at GSK Debruyne has held a number of roles, including general manager of the company’s divisions in the Netherlands and Italy. Debruyne has also led the company’s European pharmaceuticals division. For the past five years, he has helmed the company’s vaccines business, which includes overseeing the integration of the Novartis vaccine division. As head of vaccines, Debruyne has shaped the division’s research and development portfolio, as well as aligned resources to priority projects. Debruyne also helped prepare for the launch of Shingrix, its shingles vaccine, which saw sales of about $153 million in the first quarter of 2018. Since its launch about six months ago the GSK vaccine has seen significant growth in the United States and has won approximately 90 percent of the market share in this country. The company anticipates Shingrix will become its biggest vaccine of all time.

Since taking over as CEO, Walmsley has continued to shape her leadership team. She has brought in a number of high profile candidates, all while some GSK senior leaders are exiting. Walmsley’s hires have had a strong emphasis on the company’s pharmaceutical R&D business. Most recently Walmsley tapped Genentech’s Kevin Sin as the head of worldwide business development for pharmaceuticals research & development. Sin, who currently serves as vice president and global head of oncology business development at Genentech, is expected to take on his new role at GSK in July. He will report to Hal Baron, who took over as GSK’s chief scientific officer last year. Another key hire for Walmsley was AstraZeneca’s Luke Miels as the global head of GSK’s pharmaceutical.

With the new hires though there are departures. In May Chief Financial Officer Simon Dingemans announced he will retire from GSK in 2019. Since assuming the company helm Walmsley has replaced about 50 of GSK’s top managers. Barron, who was brought on from Google’s Calico last year, replaced Patrick Vallance who left the company for the chief scientific adviser position with the British government.

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