New Eli Lilly CEO's First Move: Shakes Up Leadership Structure in Effort to Recover From Alzheimer's Drug Flop

New Eli Lilly CEO's First Move: Shakes Up Leadership Structure in Effort to Recover From Alzheimer's Drug Flop January 5, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

INDIANAPOLIS – Eli Lilly closed out 2016 with disappointing news for its failed Alzheimer’s treatment and projected job cuts to its sales force. But, the Indianapolis-based company is looking to begin the new year with a series of organizational changes that includes changes in some leadership roles.

David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s president and chief executive officer, said the adjustments the company is making gives the company a “clear view of its opportunities for growth in the years ahead.” Ricks assumed the role of CEO on Jan. 1. He replaced John Lechleiter, who announced his retirement last year.

In a statement, the company outlined some of the proposed changes, which includes tapping Christi Shaw to lead the company’s Bio-Medicines division, a division formerly helmed by Ricks. Shaw is expected to take on her new role on April 3. Shaw started her career at Eli Lilly, but most recently served as president of Novartis USA. Other leadership announcements include having Sue Mahony take on the role of president of Lilly Oncology and the departure of Alex Asar, president of Lilly USA. Enrique Conterno, president of Lilly Diabetes, will assume additional responsibilities as president of Lilly USA.

Additionally, Lilly said as of Feb. 1, the company’s Diabetes, Oncology and Bio-Medicines human pharmaceutical therapeutic business areas will assume commercial responsibility for their products in China—in addition to the U.S., Japanese and Canadian markets in which they already operate. Other changes include an announcement that Lilly Diabetes will host the company's human pharmaceutical commercial operations in the United States, China, Japan and Canada.

Lilly's emerging markets business will combine with Europe to form Lilly International, which will have commercial responsibility for the company's human pharmaceutical products in these markets. Alfonso (Chito) Zulueta, who has led the Emerging Markets business for the last three years, will be senior vice president of Lilly and president of Lilly International.

Ricks said the changes are expected to increase company productivity and simplify Eli Lilly’s global commercial organization. The changes also reduce the number of leadership positions at the company.

"With new medicines recently launched -- and potential new medicines in development for cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, neurodegeneration, and pain—Lilly is in the early stages of a new growth period," Ricks said in a statement. "Now is the time to make sure that our organization is set up to make the most of these opportunities. With clear priorities and the right structure, achieving growth while improving our productivity will go hand-in-hand."

Those leadership reductions come on the heels of December’s announcement that Eli Lilly would reduce its sales force in the United States in anticipation of patent expirations for key products later this year and in response to clinical trial results on solanezumab, the failed Alzheimer’s treatment.

In November, Eli Lilly announced solanezumab didn’t show a statistical slowing in cognitive decline compared to the placebo arm in Alzheimer’s patients in a Phase III trial.

Despite the failures of solanezumab, Lilly announced on Dec. 15 it is expecting 2017 revenue between $21.8 billion and $22.3 billion, with growth driven by some of its more recently launched products. Some of the products that are driving revenue growth include diabetes drug Trulicity and lung cancer drug Cyramza. The company also said at the time it was seeing “early uptake” for its psoriasis drug Taltz.

Back to news