Lilly's U.S. chief defects to Glaxo

Eli Lilly's U.S. president is jumping ship to join GlaxoSmithKline as North American pharmaceuticals chief. That's right, Deirdre Connelly (photo), known for posing undercover as a Lilly sales rep, will be Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty's (photo) right hand in the U.S.

As Witty notes in a statement, the U.S. pharma biz is a "critical component" of Glaxo's future. "Deidre is somebody who truly understands the needs of patients and our customers and can drive the efforts we are making to reshape this business and improve future growth," Witty said.

Connelly joined Lilly in 1983 as a sales rep and proceeded to move up the ladder. In 2003, she became executive director of HR for Lilly's U.S. affiliate, and she was tapped to lead the entire U.S. operation in 2005. As Glaxo's president of North American Pharmaceuticals starting Feb. 9, Connelly will report directly to Witty, taking the place of Chris Viehbacher (photo), who left to become CEO of Sanofi-Aventis.

Not to be outdone, soon after Glaxo announced Connelly's appointment today, Lilly tapped Enrique Conterno (photo) to take her place. Conterno had been Lilly's senior vice president of health care professional markets in the U.S.; he'd also been a vice president of the company's U.S. neuroscience business.

- read the GSK release
- check out Lilly's release
- see the story from the Associated Press