GSK taps Slaoui to chair flat-selling vaccines unit with an eye to the future

Moncef Slaoui

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) vaccines unit will be getting a new look come next year, when it's expected to absorb the bulk of Novartis' ($NVS) vaccines lineup it bought for $7.1 billion back in April. It'll have some new management, too, with Moncef Slaoui in the chairman's role. And judging from the pharma giant's Q3 results, some change for the unit could be a good thing.

R&D chief Slaoui will shift over to chair the vaccines unit effective immediately, Glaxo said Wednesday, with Patrick Vallance, who has been running R&D on a day-to-day basis, stepping in to take the reins. It's part of an effort to "ensure that our leaders are focused and aligned" to vaccines, pharmaceuticals and consumer healthcare--the three businesses that will undergo a transformation when the three-part megadeal with Novartis closes, GSK spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne told FierceVaccines in an email.

Slaoui, who radically altered the British drugmaker's drug development process with a reorg focused on small units of scientists, "will take more focused accountability for vaccines, ensuring we fully leverage the value of his knowledge and experience," Rhyne said.

Now wouldn't be a bad time for the vaccines unit to get a little help. Worldwide turnover was flat in the third quarter, Glaxo said, with a 3% dip in U.S. sales offsetting a strong emerging markets showing. Increased competition from Sanofi's ($SNY) Pentacel--back from a 2013 supply delay--to Infanrix/Pediarix weighed down sales of that shot by 10%, and supply constraints took a 10% hit on GSK's hepatitis vaccines, too.

But those troubles won't last long, GSK said. Once the Novartis deal is complete, the company expects vaccines and consumer healthcare to drive 40% of the company's revenues; particularly in the U.S., it plans to up the vaccines business' profitability through synergies, including the integration of an antigen supply that Novartis currently provides to GSK.

- read the release (PDF)

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