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- 04/04/2017

Emma Walmsley, first female chief of a big pharma group, and the 4 challanges she has to face

Pharma Horizon

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On Monday 3rd April Emma Walmsley has become the first woman to chief a big pharma group, GlaxoSmithKline, succeeding Sir Andrew Witty, who spent eight years re-focusing GKS on businesses beyond inventing drugs, including consumer healthcare and vaccines.

As the Financial Times reports,  investors will now expect her to deliver in four key areas.

  • As in the US the hot topic is the high drug price, Ms Walmsley needs to strengthen revenues in other regions.
    Trying to raise sales she will institute a new decision-making structure to determine which drugs are taken to market and she also 
  • Emma Walmsley immediate challenge is  to revitilise R&D area and she will have to face hard choices about where to place the company’s longer-term bets.  First of all, she has to bring to the market Shingrix, a shingles vaccine, and “closed triple”, a combination therapy for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Both are due to secure FDA approval this year and are expected to hit peak sales of £1bn by 2025. GSK counters that between 2008 and 2015 it received more FDA approvals than any other big pharma company.
  • Even if she will take 25% less than previous CEO,  Sir Andrew Witty, she has still to fully conviced investor that she has the skills to be in charge one of the world’s biggest pharma, especially due to the fact the her  career has been spent in consumer products. 
  • Last but not least, she is starting the job just few days afterTheresa May triggered the Article 50 process that will take Britain out of the EU. 
    London-based European Medicines Agency on behalf of all 28 member states grants drug approvals. If  Britain will be entirely cut off from the European drug approvals process, there are fears that UK, leading to be considered a less desirable destination for R&D investment. Ms Walmsley needs to ensure her company’s interests are protected in the withdrawal negotiations.

Source: The Financial Times

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