Lilly Bio-Medicines chief Christi Shaw steps aside, leaving key launches behind

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Christi Shaw has served as Lilly's Bio-Medicines head since April 2017. (Lilly)

Early into an important launch for Emgality and amid rollouts for other key meds, Eli Lilly Bio-Medicines chief Christi Shaw is stepping aside.

Shaw will work with the drugmaker through the end of August and then will be replaced by Lilly’s top exec in Japan, Patrik Jonsson. The position is critical because many of Lilly's growth drivers fall under Bio-Medicines, particularly after the surprise withdrawal of cancer med Lartruvo.

For example, Shaw is managing the rollout for new CGRP migraine prevention and cluster headache drug Emgality, which won a third-in-class approval last year but is charging ahead against drugs from Amgen and Teva.

And aside of Emgality, Shaw heads up commercialization for plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drug Taltz, one of Lilly's top new drugs. It grew sales 68% last year to $937 million. Her group is also gearing up for the potential rollout of acute migraine drug lasmiditan plus pain med tanezumab in a partnership with Pfizer, among other pipeline meds.

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Investors didn't like the news. Lilly’s shares were down about 4% on Thursday morning after the announcement hit. It's worth noting that shares for many pharma companies were down Thursday after the White House pulled the industry's favored rebate proposal. Along with Shaw's move, Lilly said its SVP and general counsel Mike Harrington would retire at the end of the year. 

In its statement, Lilly CEO David Ricks said the Bio-Medicines division, under Shaw's watch, "launched multiple new medicines globally, such as Olumiant  and Emgality, and added key development projects to our early and late phase portfolio."

"I value the external perspective and passion for patients that Christi brought to the company," he added. Shaw took the Lilly post in April 2017 after leaving Novartis a year earlier for family reasons.

Before her current Lilly stint, Shaw worked at the Indianapolis drugmaker from 1989 to 2002 in sales and marketing. She also has experience with Johnson & Johnson. Lilly didn’t give a reason for her departure.

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