AstraZeneca PLC Sues Former Exec After GlaxoSmithKline Poaches Him Away to Run Its Largest Business

Published: May 18, 2017

AstraZeneca Sues Former Exec After GlaxoSmithKline Poaches Him Away to Run Its Largest Business May 16, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

LONDON – Four months after Luke Miels was hired away by GlaxoSmithKline , AstraZeneca has filed a lawsuit claiming Miels is in violation of his employee contract.

On Monday, Bloomberg first reported the lawsuit filed by AstraZeneca on May 10. AstraZeneca did not disclose to Bloomberg how Miels is in violation of his employee agreement, but the company told Bloomberg that he should be required to “abide by the terms of his contract.”

Miels was hired by GSK in January to replace Abbas Hussain, the global head of GSK’s pharmaceuticals. Miels was the first big hire by new GSK Chief Executive Officer Emma Walmsley, who took over the company helm from Sir Andrew Witty. Although he was hired in January, Miels has not yet assumed his new duties with GSK. During a call with investors last month, Walmsley said the company was still in talks with AstraZeneca and hoped to onboard him soon, Bloomberg reported. Currently Miels is on gardening leave.

“Luke is a very talented individual that we’ve appointed to lead our pharmaceuticals business,” GSK said in a statement on Monday, as reported by Bloomberg. “We look forward to welcoming him to GSK in due course.”

While at AstraZeneca, Miels was head of Global Product & Portfolio Strategy, Business Development & Licensing, Corporate Affairs, Global Medical Affairs, as well as Pricing and Market Access.

Since taking over at GSK, Walmsley has been focused on shaping the future of the company’s pharmaceutical business. In April, Walmsley pledged to focus on growing the company’s pharmaceutical business, which includes “making the right choices to develop our pharma pipeline, which is promising but unproven,” Bloomberg reported in April.

And there is certainly work to do. GSK is facing loss of revenue now that a generic of its asthma drug Advair has hit the market. Analysts predict GSK earnings to show the challenges from the new generic version of the inhaler later this year. Some analysts have predicted Advair revenues could fall by as much as 50 percent. Advair has been projected to bring in about $3.9 billion this year. The loss of Advair revenue was significant enough that in February the company reiterated a bleak economic forecast.

While GSK will see declining Advair revenues, the company is expected to see revenues from its HIV and meningitis drugs grow to nearly $7 billion.

As part of GSK’s efforts to grow its pipeline, earlier this month the company announced it was investing $139 million into a new Rockville, Mary. manufacturing site. The new facility will support the growth of its enlysta (belimumab) for adults with active, autoantibody-positive, systemic lupus erythematosus, GSK said.

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