GlaxoSmithKline, one of the Triangle’s biggest employers, named a new head of U.S. Pharmaceuticals amid a continuing erosion of the company’s North American sales.
The pharmaceutical company told employees Monday morning that Jack Bailey, who had been GSK’s senior vice president for policy, payers and vaccines, will replace Deirdre Connelly as head of North American operations. Bailey, 50, is based in Research Triangle Park and will remain here; Connelly, 54, was based in Philadelphia but previously had been the top official at the GSK’s RTP operations.
The leadership shakeup, rumored for months, comes two months after GSK said it would eliminate 900 positions in the Triangle as part of a corporate reorganization strategy that will include exiting oncology drugs and expanding vaccines.
The British drugmaker did not publicly announce Connelly’s replacement; her corporate bio was removed from the company’s website on Tuesday. Instead, the company prepared a statement for dissemination in response to media queries, saying Connelly “has made the decision to retire after six years in the role.”
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In the statement, GSK’s president of global pharmaceuticals, Abbas Hussain, praised Connelly for devising a strategy to sever sales bonuses from sales targets and for “rebuilding trust with our customers,” a reference to a scandal that resulted in a $3 billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department for illegal promotion of its drugs.
“At the same time,” Hussain said, “the U.S. marketplace has changed significantly, with an exceedingly competitive payer landscape. As a result the entire sector is facing new challenges due to pressures on price and access.”
GSK’s aggressive sales culture was blamed by some for the company’s unethical sales practices 5 years ago. But some analysts later said eliminating sales incentives may have contributed to sluggish sales, according to a Bloomberg story last year.
The Bloomberg story noted that GSK’s pharmaceutical sales had fallen 16 percent since 2009, when Connelly joined the company. She was brought in from Eli Lilly, where she had spent a quarter-century.
Bailey also joined GSK from Eli Lilly, where he had spent 18 years. Bailey has an MBA from UNC Kenan Flagler’s business school and sits on the boards of several organizations: N.C. Biotechnology Center, N.C. Healthcare Quality Alliance and N.C. Chamber of Commerce.
GSK employs about 5,000 in the Triangle About 4,500 work at GSK’s North American headquarters in RTP and 500 at its manufacturing facility in Zebulon. That workforce total could be dramatically different by the end of this year, as GSK sheds 900 employees and absorbs workers from the Novartis vaccines unit it is acquiring.
Under its restructuring plan, GSK will shrink its R&D operations and its pharmaceutical business in the United States. About half of the affected employees in RTP will be offered positions with a clinical research company, Parexel, and an undetermined number will be able to relocate to GSK’s campus in the Philadelphia area.