GlaxoSmithKline bids adieu to vaccines President Luc Debruyne as executive overhaul continues

GlaxoSmithKline has experienced multiple top executive departures under CEO Emma Walmsley, but the reformation of the company's leadership isn't finished yet. The company's vaccines president Luc Debruyne will leave at the end of the year, the company said, to be replaced by Manufacturing & Supply President Roger Conner. 

Luc Debruyne has served at GSK for 27 years, holding positions as general manager in the Netherlands, SVP of pharma in Europe and more.

He's been president of GSK's vaccines outfit for five years. During that time, the group has integrated Novartis' vaccines assets, launched new shingles vaccine Shingrix and built up its presence in the U.S., according to the company.

With the company's 2015 asset swap—orchestrated by former CEO Andrew Witty—GlaxoSmithKline doubled down in vaccines. A recent report from EvaluatePharma forecast the company will lead the vaccines industry in 2024 sales at $10.74 billion. 

Last year, the company passed Merck to lead the industry's sales rankings with a global vaccine haul of about $7.16 billion. 

Vaccines have been a reliable growth contributor for GSK in recent years as the company's pharma and consumer healthcare businesses have come under competitive pressures. Last year, vaccines sales grew by 6%, compared to 3% for pharma and 2% for consumer healthcare at constant exchange rates.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline tops its peers with $7.16B in 2017 vaccine sales 

Conner will become president of GSK's vaccines group on September 1. He has served on GSK's corporate executive team since 2012 and led a transformation of the company's supply chain, GSK said. 

Starting in September, Regis Simard will take the role of pharmaceutical supply chain president. He is currently SVP of global pharma manufacturing. 

Debruyne's exit comes as Glaxo's vaccines unit works to execute on its important Shingrix launch. The company won U.S. approval for the shingles vaccine last fall, and days later it picked up a preferential recommendation from the CDC.

GSK expects the vaccine to chip in $600 million in sales this year after it generated $150 million in the first quarter. It's among a group of new approvals on a path to blockbuster sales, analysts predict.

Debruyne isn't the only GSK executive to head for the exit in recent months and years. Last month, the company announced that longtime CFO Simon Dingemans is retiring next May. Since former CEO Witty left the company in March 2017, R&D chief Patrick Vallance has also exited, along with vaccines chairman Moncef Slaoui and Dominique Limet, head of HIV joint venture ViiV Healthcare.

RELATED: Longtime GlaxoSmithKline CFO Dingemans, following his C-suite peers, heads for the exit 

As part of her strategy to reshape GSK's executive team, Walmsley has looked to other global drug giants for experience. She hired former Roche executive Hal Barron as Glaxo's R&D head and former AstraZeneca executive Luke Miels to run GSK's pharma business.  

GlaxoSmithKline is counting on Shingrix and two other newly approved drugs, HIV drug Juluca and respiratory drug Trelegy, to fuel growth as Advair continues its decline. Generics to Advair could hit the market this year, representing a revenue risk to Glaxo's top drug. 

Walmsley started as Glaxo's CEO on March 31, 2017.