Gilead's new chief steals Bristol-Myers Squibb's Mercier for top commercial job, putting Hamill out in the cold

Johanna Mercier will take over as Gilead's commercial chief on July 1. (Gilead China)

Bristol-Myers Squibb is losing another key commercial cog, and this time Gilead is the culprit.

Wednesday, the Big Biotech said it had poached Johanna Mercier, who led the U.S., Germany, France and Japan for BMS, to serve as its next commercial chief. Mercier will join Gilead’s new senior leadership team when she takes the baton July 1.

RELATED: Gilead steals new commercial chief from Amgen to tackle big sales challenges


Simplify and Accelerate Drug R&D With the MarkLogic Data Hub Service for Pharma R&D

Researchers are often unable to access the information they need. And, even when data does get consolidated, researchers find it difficult to sift through it all and make sense of it in order to confidently draw the right conclusions and share the right results. Discover how to quickly and easily find, synthesize, and share information—accelerating and improving R&D.

Of course, one commercial chief in means another one is out, and that’s Laura Hamill, whose short stint began last summer when Gilead swiped her from Amgen. She won’t walk away empty-handed, though: She’ll be eligible for a cash payment of $1.75 million and entitled to severance payments on top of that, according to a regulatory filing.

The switch marks a key executive hire for Gilead's new CEO, Daniel O’Day, who has begun building his team after taking the helm earlier this year. Longtime CFO Robin Washington has already announced plans to retire next March, and Oncology EVP Alessandro Riva, M.D., jumped ship in March for a CEO position.

RELATED: Gilead, looking for cancer sales, swipes Roche pharma chief Daniel O'Day for CEO post

With years of commercial experience of his own, O’Day likely knows exactly what he’s looking for from Mercier, who has held leading roles in oncology, inflammation and neuroscience. The oncology experience in particular could come in handy at Gilead, which tapped O’Day in part for his own cancer background as it looks to jump-start lagging CAR-T drug Yescarta.

“I believe that Johanna has the skills to continue to strengthen our performance and position Gilead for long-term success … “She is a talented leader with a deep understanding of the pharmaceutical industry, across therapeutic markets and geographies, as well as a proven ability to input the commercial perspective into development strategies,” O’Day said in a press release.

RELATED: Bristol-Myers Squibb commercial chief Murdo Gordon jumps ship ahead of key Opdivo launch

Meanwhile, though, the transition leaves a hole for Bristol, who lost its own commercial chief less than a year ago ahead of its Celgene megamerger agreement. Murdo Gordon’s move to Amgen to replace Tony Hooper kicked off a game of exec musical chairs that’s since seen Hamill’s move to Gilead and BMS’ promotion of Christopher Boerner.

Suggested Articles

That didn’t take long. Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson has only been at the reins for a couple months, but on Tuesday, he unveiled a major shakeup.  

New "gold standard" data could further increase doctors' confidence in multiple myeloma med Darzalex, Johnson & Johnson says.

Could Monday's cancer buyout be a hint about what Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson will unveil at Tuesday's investor confab? Analysts think so.