Astrazeneca CEO Departs Amid Disappointing Quarter

Astrazeneca CEO Departs Amid Disappointing Quarter

April 27th, 2012 // 12:36 pm @


Poor David Brennan. At the annual meeting of PhRMA in Boston only two weeks ago, he was stoutly defending his strategy as AstraZeneca ceo. Now comes the news that he is departing. As of June 1, the struggling drugmaker will be temporarily led by Simon Lowth, chief financial officer.

Ironically, just a month ago, Brennan received an 11 percent pay raise, despite concerns about pipeline problems and a looming patent cliff and cost-cutting that will include the elimination of 7,000 jobs (see here).

In March, AstraZeneca lost a bid to prevent generic competition to its multi-billion-dollar-selling antipsychotic drug, Seroquel. To help bolster its pipeline, the drugmaker earlier this week agreed to purchase Ardea Biosciences for $1.26 billion. It’s the biggest deal made under Brennan’s tutelage since buying Medimmune in 2007 for about $15.2 billion.

Not a lot has come out of the Medimmune acquisition, however, and AstraZeneca has since suffered disappointing clinical results for potential treatments for severe depression and ovarian cancer.

Brennan had a few stock words to say about his departure during a phone call with reporters about disappointing first-quarter financial results. “The time for reflection on what has been a long and rewarding career with AstraZeneca will have to wait until I hand over responsibilities,” he says. “For now, my attention remains and will continue to remain 100 percent focused on delivering our strategy. But I do want to say that I am proud of what we have achieved in my time as chief executive.”

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