Sanofi taps Bayer vet to lead soon-to-be-bolstered consumer unit

Sanofi's headquarters in Paris

GlaxoSmithKline, which filled the seat of CEO-bound Emma Walmsley on Thursday, isn’t the only Big Pharma to tap a new consumer chief this week.

On Friday, rival Sanofi announced it had appointed Alan Main to lead its OTC efforts, which will take the form of a newly created consumer health global business unit.

It’s a poach job by new Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt, who recruited Main from his former employer, Bayer. At the German drugmaker, Main served as global president of medical care, but he has plenty of consumer experience from his pre-Bayer days at Roche Consumer Health, a business Bayer picked up in 2004.

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Now, he’ll be tasked with leading a newly bulked-up business in an increasingly competitive space. Sanofi is currently working to close an asset swap for Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer portfolio--for which it traded away its animal health offerings--and it expects to do so by the end of this year. Once it does, it’ll become a leader in the OTC field, it figures--meeting one of the key goals it laid out in its “roadmap 2020.”

Of course, Sanofi isn’t the only player fighting to gain ground in the consumer health arena. GlaxoSmithKline, which took the lead after starting up a JV with Novartis early last year, intends to keep the top spot, and it Thursday announced that Novartis vet Brian McNamara would be leading that charge as head of the venture.

Bayer, too, has said it’s gunning for the worldwide No. 1 position in the OTC market, though lately it’s focused its energies elsewhere. Earlier this month, it agreed to shell out $66 billion on agricultural giant Monsanto, a deal some industry watchers worry will hurt its pharma ambitions.

- read Sanofi's release

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