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Sanofi makes ex-Roche scientist new R&D chief

Published on 25/04/18 at 08:54am

With the retirement of Elias Zerhouni as Head of Global R&D, Sanofi had to find a suitable replacement and believes it has found the man in John Reed (pictured above).

Reed arrives after having previously acted as Global Head of Roche Pharma Research & Early Development. His stay at Roche lasted five years, after having joined in 2013, and Sanofi will be hoping he can steady the ship following Zerhouni’s departure after nine years in the role.

Sanofi revealed that Reed will join the company on 30 April, which means that his role will see him overlap on Zerhouni’s tenure and will include a transition period up until the latter’s official retirement date of 1 July.

Neither Sanofi nor Roche have been blessed by a strong pipeline of candidates flowing through to the market, with both looking to outside units or companies to boost their own R&D efforts.

For Sanofi, the start to the year has been a busy one for M&A – with a $11.6 billion takeover of Bioverativ and $5 billion deal for Ablynx.

While Roche has relied on partnership deals with Regeneron and leaned on its own Genzyme unit for prospects.

“John is an accomplished and widely recognized physician-scientist with a brilliant academic track record,” said CEO Olivier Brandicourt. “He is experienced in driving R&D productivity, building high-performing teams and integrating biotech companies to provide new technology platforms.”

Reed will certainly have a bit of work to do integrating Sanofi’s recent biotech purchases and it looks likely, after it sold of its European generics business, that the company could return to the market to further replenish its pipeline.

For Zerhouni, it will be interesting to see whether his retirement from the industry is an official retirement or whether, in the manner of a number of departing executives at pharma companies, he pops up elsewhere after a few months.

Ben Hargreaves

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