Bristol-Myers rejigs top management to refocus commercial ops, beef up CFO role

Last week, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) said it would jettison some research programs, lay off workers and generally reorganize R&D. Now, CEO Lamberto Andreotti is rejigging the commercial side of the business. In the shuffle, current commercial chief Beatrice Cazala will be shunted aside, with current U.S. President Giovanni Caforio taking her place.

Caforio steps into a newly created role as executive vice president and chief commercial officer. Also on his way up is Charles Bancroft, executive VP and CFO; he'll now take on business development and strategy, too. And Murdo Gordon, now senior VP of oncology in the U.S., rises to U.S. president.

The changes are designed to integrate commercial operations around the world and expand the scope of Bristol-Myers' finance organization, the company said. "By evolving our organization and expanding the roles of Giovanni and Charlie," Andreotti said in a statement, "I feel even more confident in the strength of my management team and our ability to take advantage of the most critical opportunities to build long-term sustainable growth."

That's a big "ouch" for Cazala, who's been an executive VP in charge of global commercialization, Europe and China. She now is "in the process of transitioning to a new role within the company," the company said.

Bristol-Myers sales are still suffering from its patent cliff, particularly the loss of exclusivity on its megablockbuster blood thinner Plavix, though losses on Avapro and Avalide haven't helped. Eliquis, the new-generation anticoagulant developed with Pfizer ($PFE), was supposed to step in with fast-growing sales this year, but the drug has struggled to gain acceptance since its approval in late 2012. For the first half of this year, it only brought in $29 million, far from the levels expected early on.

The drug turned in a better performance for the third quarter, with $75 million in sales. During the Q3 earnings call with analysts, Andreotti promised continued growth, supported by a new advertising push and revved-up promotional efforts. "Our expectations for peak sales have not changed," he said. "We are confident about Eliquis and about what the product can achieve."

Presumably, keeping Andreotti's promise will be one item near the top of Caforio's to-do list. Launching the company's forthcoming hepatitis C drugs, presuming they win approval, will be another.

- read the Bristol-Myers release

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