Lilly hands its oncology baton—and big ambitions—to R&D executive Anne White

Anne White Lilly Oncology
New Lilly oncology head Anne White brings more than 25 years of biopharma experience to the table. (Eli Lilly)

With oncology head Sue Mahony retiring today, Eli Lilly has her replacement ready to step in.

The company has promoted Anne White, currently VP of portfolio management for Lilly’s Chorus and next gen R&D units, to take on the role of SVP and president of Lilly Oncology, a unit Lilly says will be key to its growth future. She'll step in as of this Saturday, reporting directly to Lilly CEO David Ricks.

White will have big shoes to fill, as Mahony—who said in May that she’d depart—saw the company through some key changes in her 18 years with the drugmaker. She spearheaded the launch of Verzenio, Lilly’s answer to Pfizer breast cancer blockbuster Ibrance, last year, and she managed the integration of Lilly’s 2008 ImClone acquisition as well.

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White, though, brings more than 25 years of biopharma experience of her own to the table. Before landing in her current position, she held various jobs both inside and outside of Lilly, including COO of oncology. Plus, White's R&D background will likely come in handy as Lilly looks to advance a number of oncology pipeline candidates, including next-gen immuno-oncology therapies.

“Her experience leading significant change transformation within the company will be incredibly valuable as we look toward the future," Ricks said in a statement, adding that she brings “a wealth of … expertise and leadership to our executive team.”

RELATED: Lilly steps up to rival Pfizer, Novartis with Verzenio breast cancer approval  

White will draw on that experience to keep the Verzenio launch rolling and pump up other recent launches, too. Lilly is counting on drugs Cyramza and Lartruvo, in addition to the breast-cancer fighter, to help it meet 2018 sales forecasts of $23 billion to $23.5 billion.

Meanwhile, it's been a big week for commercial appointments around the industry. Earlier in the week, Gilead poached Laura Hamill from Amgen to take its top commercial post, while Bristol-Myers Squibb promoted Christopher Boerner to commercial head to replace Murdo Gordon, who left for Amgen.

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