Vaccine maker MedImmune has a new AZ chief

Five years ago this summer, AstraZeneca ($AZN) decided to pony up to purchase Maryland-based MedImmune for a cool $15.6 billion, a deal that left many wondering whether the bills matched the product. Now, incoming CEO Pascal Soriot has his work cut out for him.

Come October, the French-native will jump over from Roche ($RHHBY), where he served as chief operating officer since 2010. He's inheriting a vaccines and biotech drugs division with 2,600 Maryland employees and 4,000 globally, The Washington Post reports. The company will also shutter two California offices, leading to a loss of 200 jobs and a shift of 100 more to other sites.

MedImmune has had its ups and downs, with the vaccines business supplying some upbeat results; in 2009, the company was the first to market a swine flu vaccine. And this year MedImmune rolled out the first intranasal flu vaccine that contains four strains of the disease. Fluenz nasal spray became the vaccine of choice in the U.K. for children ages 2 to 17 in a contract expected to exceed £100 million ($156.7 million). The company's FluMist brought in $161 million of AZ's $33.6 billion in revenue in 2011.

"No one is blind to the challenges that confront the pharmaceutical sector of this company, but the underlying strengths of AstraZeneca in delivering on its strategy are clear," Soriot said in a statement. "AstraZeneca will continue to make a positive difference to patients over the longer term and I'm looking forward to playing my part in shaping that future."

- see AstraZeneca's statement
- get more from The Washington Post

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