GSK taps Witty as next CEO

It's a changing of the guard--in more ways than one. GlaxoSmithKline has appointed Andrew Witty (photo), now president of the company's European pharma division, to succeed Jean-Pierre Garnier as CEO in May. Witty has spent his entire career at Glaxo, with stints in South Africa, the U.S., and Asia. Analysts said he'd been able to grow sales significantly in Europe despite pricing pressures--an ability that may help him in the U.S. as well.

Witty, 43, will also have to contend with that little problem known as Avandia. The embattled diabetes drug has helped depress Glaxo's stock by 8 percent since news of safety concerns emerged in May. And because he was selected over two key Glaxo execs--who very well might leave the company now--he may soon be on a recruitment quest.

As the youngest internal candidate for the job, Witty may also represent a generational shift in the company and the industry as a whole. Roche appointed 40-year-old Severin Schwan as its new chief just three months ago.

- check out the release from Glaxo
- read the article from the Financial Times

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