Gilead CEO O'Day continues top-level revamp with two more exec exits

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Gregg Alton, Gilead's chief patient officer, and Katie Watson, its EVP of human resources, will both be leaving the drugmaker. (Pixabay)

New Gilead CEO Daniel O’Day has already replaced some key leaders at the company, but he’s not stopping there with the executive overhaul.

Wednesday, the Big Biotech said it would bid farewell to Gregg Alton, its chief patient officer, and Katie Watson, its EVP of human resources. In Watson’s place, Jyoti Mehra will step in to preside over Gilead’s worldwide HR function.

Both departures end double-digit tenures at Gilead, where Alton and Watson have worked since 1999 and 2003, respectively. And the moves from O’Day underscore his intent to completely revamp Gilead’s leadership team.

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He’s already well on his way toward that goal, of course. Since he took the baton in early March, O’Day has been busy swapping out execs in key jobs and creating new positions for others. His early priorities included installing Johanna Mercier, a key commercial cog at Bristol-Myers Squibb, as Gilead’s commercial chief, displacing Laura Hamill after less than a year.

RELATED: Gilead snags Lilly exec Shaw for Kite CEO position

More recently, the California biotech said it would bring on Eli Lilly’s Christi Shaw for a newly created Kite CEO post.

And O’Day still has more work to do in the hiring department. In April, the company said longtime CFO Robin Washington would retire next year, and Wednesday, Gilead said chief scientific officer and R&D chief John McHutchison would leave the drugmaker next month.

In the wake of its hepatitis C revenue crash and with cell therapy Yescarta struggling, there’s no denying Gilead needs some sort of change, which is why the company poached O’Day from Roche in the first place. But O’Day will likely need to alter more than just the cast of characters to get sales where he wants them.

RELATED: New Gilead chief plots Kite CEO hire, pipeline M&A and organizational tweaks

As he looks to put an early mark on the company, though, O’Day is already doing more than just staffing. Earlier in the week, Gilead struck a $5.1 billion deal with Galapagos for a 10-year pipeline collaboration.

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