Merck KGaA reworks healthcare exec team with new COO, CMO

Merck KGaA healthcare COO Simon Sturge

Merck KGaA has been working to turn itself around for years now, with consolidations, layoffs, reorgs and M&A all part of that effort. Now, the German company is rejigging top management in its healthcare business again.

Headed up by CEO Belén Garijo, who took the reins of the overall healthcare business in January, the division is simplifying its structure, with a cadre of newly minted management positions, including chief operating officer, chief marketing and strategy officer, and chief of staff. The idea is to streamline the executive team, as a follow-up to the long months of cost-cutting and rebuilding.

For its first-ever chief operating officer, the healthcare executive committee gets Simon Sturge, who'll take on the task of overseeing all commercial regions and supervising global manufacturing and supply. Sturge will continue handling the company's biosimilars efforts and its Allergopharma unit.

Rehan Verjee, who currently heads up Merck's Canada business, will become chief marketing and strategy officer, handling the company's specialty franchises in oncology, neurology, immunology, fertility and devices. Verjee will also handle the company's recently forged immuno-oncology alliance with Pfizer ($PFE).

Meanwhile, Jitinder Saini will become global chief of staff and head of Merck's strategy realization office. Luciano Rossetti will keep his post at the top of Global R&D, with no changes planned in that area. Three other execs will round out the group's executive committee.

"After having successfully restructured our business and rebuilt our pipeline, we are simplifying our organization to focus on driving the growth of our Healthcare business," Garijo said. "With this new organization, we aim to accelerate the delivery of our pipeline in immuno-oncology, immunology and oncology, prepare for new global launches as well as maximize opportunities of our inline portfolio."

The management news comes a few days after the company announced it would forge ahead with an experimental MS drug cladribine, which has failed on that road before--a failure that helped trigger the company's cost cuts and layoffs. Merck figures some new data and analysis make a better case for cladribine this time around.

Special Report: The top 10 best-selling multiple sclerosis drugs of 2013 - Rebif

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