Boehringer pharma chief heads for the exit amid a top-level reshuffling

Boehringer Ingelheim has plans to reshuffle its board of directors. (Boehringer Ingelheim)

Drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim has made a concerted push to boost its pipeline with a suite of recent acquisitions. Now, the company's shuffling senior management—and its board—as its top pharma exec heads for the exit.

Allan Hillgrove, a 37-year Boehringer veteran responsible for the company’s human pharma and biopharma businesses, is set to retire at the end of the year, Boehringer said.

He''ll be replaced by Carine Brouillon, who heads Boehringer’s therapeutics meds department, both at the pharma helm and on Boehringer's board. She'll take both roles beginning January 1. Brouillon has been with Boehringer since 2018.

In a statement, Christian Boehringer, chairman of the shareholders’ committee, said Hillgrove had been critical in driving the drugmaker’s respiratory and diabetes portfolios to market, including the blockbuster diabetes med Jardiance and idiopathic lung fibrosis drug Ofev. 

In the first half of this year, Jardiance hit €1 billion in sales, a 44.8% increase over the previous year. Ofev recorded €677 million in sales, a 21.6% jump. On the whole, Boehringer raked in €9.3 billion euros between its pharma and animal health units in the first half, a steady 4.6% jump from the year before. The drugmaker’s human pharma business cleared €6.8 billion alone.

Hillgrove isn’t the only company leader on the way out: Joachim Hasenmaier, who has led the company’s animal health business since 2001, will also retire and step down as a board member. Hansenmaier joined the board in 2012 and headed up both animal health and consumer health care. He helped forge key acquisitions, such as 2009's Fort Dodge buy, the company said. 

RELATED: Boehringer buys up cancer vaccine player, eyes oncology combo strategy

Taking his place at the helm of animal health will be Jean Scheftsik de Szolnok, who'll also join the board. Scheftsik de Szolnok joined the corporation in 1987 and served as the country managing director of France beginning in September 2017.

Finally, Andreas Neumann will step down from the board next month and leave the company as Boehringer moves to split HR responsibilities between CEO Hubertus Von Baumbach and CFO Michael Schmelmer. Neumann was an eight-year veteran at Boehringer.

A Boehringer spokesperson declined to comment on whether the moves were connected.

The German drugmaker has been aggressively expanding its pipeline in recent months, including the up-to-€425 million acquisition of Swiss cancer biotech Amal Therapeutics in July. As part of the deal, BI accessed Amal’s KISIMA platform, which uses peptide/protein-based vaccination technology aimed at treating lung and gastrointestinal cancers. The biotech’s lead vaccine, ATP128, is currently in development for late-stage colorectal cancer.

RELATED: Boehringer grabs Yuhan's NASH prospect in $870M biobucks deal

Earlier that same month, Boehringer closed an $870 million licensing deal with South Korea’s Yuhan to pick up a GLP-1/FGF21 agonist candidate to flesh out its NASH pipeline.

In its first-half report to investors earlier this month, Boehringer execs said the company was moving to aggressively pursue R&D options in rare and previously untreated diseases. The drugmaker said it is “currently working on about 90 development projects in human pharmaceuticals, of which 71% have therapeutic breakthrough potential and 63% the potential to be first substance in a new class of active ingredient.”

Editor's note: This story was revised to show Jean Scheftsik de Szolnok will join Boehringer's board not on an interim basis, but as a full member.