Novartis' North American pharma head resigns

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J&J CEO Alex Gorsky
J&J CEO Alex Gorsky

Novartis head of North American pharmaceuticals, Alex Gorsky, has resigned from the company. 

A spokesman confirmed the departure in a statement e-mailed to MM&M today.

"We thank him for his strong leadership of the North American Pharma business and wish him every success in his new role," the statement read. "His successor will be announced at a later date."

According to the industry blog, Gorsky will return to former employer Johnson & Johnson where he will be company group chairman and worldwide franchise chairman for Ethicon.

There he will report to Sheri McCoy, who runs the Surgical Care Group, a J&J spokesman told Pharmalot.

Gorsky parts ways with Novartis just four months after Joe Jimenez took the reigns of the company as worldwide CEO.

The company is also implementing a plan to eliminate 1,260 jobs from its US sales and marketing unit in an effort to save the company an estimated $230 million. The moves follow a year of tough losses on a number of key Novartis products. Zelnorm sales fell 80% after the company was forced to pull the irritable bowel treatment from the market in March due to safety concerns. Generic competition caught up to other top-sellers including Lamisil, Lotrel and Famivir, and top prospect, type 2 diabetes drug Galvus, was delayed at the FDA.

Gorsky was appointed head of pharma North America and CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NPC) in the Fall of 2005.

He first joined NPC in 2004 as COO and head of general medicines and quickly established himself as a leader overseeing Novartis' cardiovascular franchise, including Diovan and Lotrel.  He also oversaw the launch of overactive bladder product Enablex and completed a deal with Procter & Gamble to co-promote and further develop the product. He was also involved in the launch of Focalin XR for ADHD and oversaw a realignment of the company's sales force.

Prior to joining Novartis, Gorsky was based in London as company group chairman for J&J's pharmaceutical business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to that, he spent 15 years in various sales, marketing and management roles at J&J unit Janssen Pharmaceutica  and was based in New Jersey. 

He began his pharmaceutical career as a sales representative and held various roles of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing and general management.

His landmark achievements as president of Janssen's U.S. operations included the commercialization of anti-psychotic Risperdal and pain medication Duragesic. He also oversaw the launches of Aciphex, a proton pump inhibitor for GI disorders, and Reminyl, a treatment for Alzheimer's disease.


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