Pharma women rank among world's most powerful

Top executives from several leading pharma companies made Forbes' "The World's Most Powerful Women" list. The annual feature ranks women based on visibility in the media and organization or country size. This year's list includes Johnson and Johnson's Sherilyn McCoy at 65th, GlaxoSmithKline's Deirdre Connelly at 73rd, Pfizer's Amy Schulman at 80th, and Melanie Healey of Proctor & Gamble at 83rd.

Sheri McCoy (photo) was promoted to worldwide president of the company's pharmaceutical group last October, replacing the "most powerful woman in pharma," Christine Poon (photo). A J&J veteran of more than 25 years, McCoy previously served as chief of the company's surgical products division, its medical devices unit in Latin America and the pharma giant's subsidiary, Ethicon. McCoy's a chemical engineer by training, with degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Princeton University. She also received an M.B.A. from Rutgers University.

In January, Deirdre Connelly (photo) left Eli Lilly, where she was president of U.S. operations, to join GlaxoSmithKline as North American pharmaceuticals chief. Connelly had joined Lilly in 1983 and worked hard to move up the ladder, eventually earning the position of chief U.S. ops in 2005. She received her B.A. in economics and marketing at Pennsylvania's Lycoming College and graduated from Harvard's Advanced Management Program in 2000.

Amy Schulman (photo) took the reins as Pfizer's general counsel in May of 2008, after Allen Waxman left for personal reasons. Prior to her appointment as GC, this premier litigator was a partner at the law firm DLA Piper where she specialized in product liability cases. She received her law degree from Yale University, following in the footsteps of her father, Alvin H. Schulman, a partner at Moses & Singer in New York and her grandfather, the late Edward Weinfeld, a longtime judge for the Southern District of New York.

Melanie Healey (photo) joined Proctor & Gamble in 1990 as a brand manager for P&G's Phebo Soap and continued to develop a career in marketing from there. The Brazilian native landed the position of president of Proctor & Gamble's feminine and health care division in 2007. She holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Richmond.

Look out for our feature profiling influential women in pharma coming later this year. Have a name you'd like to throw in the hat? Let us know.

- see how pharma women ranked against other powerful women here