Ex-Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov emerges as Galderma CEO after $10B Nestlé spinout

Flemming Ørnskov
Flemming Ornskov, the former Shire CEO who pulled off the Baxalta buyout, has become CEO of Nestlé skin health spinoff Galderma. (Shire)

As Takeda folds in Shire, two of the Irish rare disease specialist’s former top leaders have found themselves a new home at Nestlé skin health spinoff Galderma.

Flemming Ornskov, Shire’s most recent CEO before the Takeda buyout, has taken the reins as Galderma CEO. And Shire’s former finance overseer, Thomas Dittrich, will work alongside him as CFO of Galderma, a company that now holds the title of the world’s largest independent dermatology-focused drugmaker.

Prior to Shire, Ornskov had plenty of experience from his work at Bayer, Bausch & Lomb and Novartis. Dittrich was only Shire’s CFO for a year, but he’s not so new to pharma, either, having previously served a stint at Amgen.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ebeling, former CEO of Novartis Pharma and Novartis Consumer Health, has become Galderma Chairman, and Sheri McCoy, former Johnson & Johnson vice chair responsible for the pharma and consumer divisions, has also joined as a director. Stuart Raetzman, Nestlé Skin Health's CEO since 2016, has transitioned to a director role.

Consumer giant Nestlé in May confirmed the CHF 10.2 billion ($10.2 billion) skin health spinoff to a consortium of private investment organizations including EQT Partners, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s Luxinva, and PSP Investments, among others.

RELATED: Nestlé's pharma experiment nears an end with $10B skin health sale talks

Ornskov is credited for growing Shire from a relatively small, $4 billion business into one of biopharma’s most prominent rare disease players with $15 billion in revenue in just five years.

He orchestrated Shire’s eventful $32 billion takeover of Baxalta in 2016, which is still one of the biggest pharma M&A transactions in history. And about four years after AbbVie walked out of a $55 billion acquisition deal, Ornskov successfully sold the company to expansion-hungry Takeda for an even larger $62 billion.

Both the Baxalta tie-up and Takeda’s subsequent Shire deal have been challenged by investors, what with the heated competition and risk to Baxalta’s hemophilia business, which previously made up 20% of Shire’s revenue. As Roche’s antibody hemophilia A drug Hemlibra continues its land-grab, and as gene therapies lurk around the corner, other firms’ hemophilia franchises will only be under more pressure.

But that’s not Ornskov’s concern anymore. The new Galderma operates in three business units: aesthetics, prescription and consumer care, with combined revenues of CHF 2.8 billion ($2.81 billion) and about 5,000 employees. In a statement on Oct. 2, the company said it would maintain its current course focused on the “highly attractive” dermatology sector, continue to build its presence in the U.S. and China, and launch new products with an eye on global expansion.

First up, the company on Friday said it had snagged an FDA green light for Aklief, a topical retinoid cream for acne. Its active ingredient, trifarotene, is the first new FDA-approved retinoid molecule in over 20 years, Galderma said. It also stands as the first topical treatment that's been specifically studied and shown efficacy in both facial and truncal acne.

The new cream will add to Galderma’s existing acne solutions, including Epiduo and Differin, both of which contain retinoid drug adapalene. The now-independent Fortworth, Texas-based company said it will launch Aklief in November, and it’s “working closely with payers, provider and pharmacy benefit managers to ensure” its access.