Amy Schulman, tapped to lead a new Pfizer division, makes an abrupt exit

In July, Amy Schulman looked to be one of the most powerful women in Big Pharma. As part of CEO Ian Read's plan to split Pfizer's ($PFE) internal operations into three distinct units, he tapped Schulman to lead the company's vaccines, oncology and consumer healthcare business. 

Amy Schulman

Now, Schulman is out. She won't take over that newly created unit in January--and she's relinquishing her role as general counsel and executive team member immediately. Whether by her own choice, or Pfizer's, isn't public.

The company's announcement is a terse, yet studiously polite, disclosure of Schulman's departure. "By mutual agreement, Amy Schulman steps down," the release begins, later stating, "Amy Schulman and Pfizer have agreed to separate." The company goes on to "thank Amy for the past 5 years of hard work" and wish her well "in her future endeavors."

We hesitate to speculate on the behind-the-scenes action that led to this announcement. Perhaps we'll see Schulman pop up at another company soon. Up till now, both Pfizer and Schulman appeared to be fully committed to her new job. And with analysts and investors speculating that Pfizer's three-way internal split will lead to an actual breakup, that job will be a big one. All eyes will be watching to see how Pfizer's new triumvirate of commercial chiefs perform. 

Now, those eyes will fall on someone else. Pfizer has chosen Albert Bourla, a 20-year Pfizer vet, to lead the business that Schulman would have. Replacing Bourla as global vaccines chief is Susan Silbermann, previously a top exec in the company's specialty care business. And Doug Lankler, preparing to take the general counsel baton from Schulman in January, moves into that spot now.

- read the press release from Pfizer

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