Development head Shannon exits as Novartis re-org continues

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Novartis' head of global drug development James Shannon will leave the company as the drugmaker continues a reorganization of its pharmaceuticals division.

Shannon will be replaced by two Novartis execs who will oversee development in newly created roles. Trevor Mundel will head global-development functions and Andrin Oswald steps in as global head of development franchises. At press time Shannon's future plans remained unclear.

Shannon's exit comes on the heels of several recent departures from Novartis. Alex Gorsky, who was Novartis' head of North American pharmaceutical, left in February to return to former employer Johnson & Johnson to serve as company group chairman and worldwide franchise chairman for Ethicon. Other recent Novartis departures include former consumer marketing chief Deborah Dick-Rath, Tom Jones who headed communications on gastroenterology and respiratory brands and former cardiovascular head Mark Iwicki.

Last year was filled with tough losses on a number of key Novartis products. As a result Novartis announced plans to eliminate 1,260 jobs from its US sales and marketing unit and replace its head of pharmaceuticals in October.

Joe Jimenez, who joined the Swiss drugmaker in April 2007 from Blackstone, stepped in to run the company's pharmaceuticals unit.

Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella told the Wall Street Journal that the aim of recent management changes is reduce bureaucracy and get drugs to market faster.

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