A primer on Glaxo's Dierdre Connelly

You all know Dierdre Connelly (photo). Late of Eli Lilly, she's now GlaxoSmithKline's chief of North American pharmaceuticals. She's one of the most powerful women in the drug industry. But do you really know Dierdre Connelly?

Did you know, for instance, that she spends half her week in Philadelphia, half in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.? That she usually gets up at 5 a.m.? That her first language was Spanish? All this and more can be found in the Raleigh News & Observer's profile of Connelly, who oversees some 5,000 workers at the area's Research Triangle Park and a plant in nearby Zebulon.

Connelly likens transparency on clinical trials, doc payments, CME grants and the like to turning on the lights in a haunted house: "then you see it's not that scary." She supports healthcare reform, but not price controls. She joined Glaxo because she was sold on a.) its diversification strategy and b.) its push into emerging markets. She spends most of her time dealing with Glaxo's marketing and sales staff--no surprise, given her sales-exec background at Lilly--but she also co-chairs a forum that reviews pipeline products. She wouldn't comment on whether Glaxo will have another round of layoffs.

On a personal note, she's excited about Glaxo's in-development lupus drug, because her father died of the disease. "We have not had a new medicine in 50 years," she told the N&O. "Patients that suffered from that disease will have a solution; that's very exciting to me."

- see the N&O story