Longtime CEO of drugmaker GSK to retire next year

The head of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, has announced his retirement after a decade as CEO.

The search for a successor comes amid months of pressure from some investors, who had wanted the diverse company to be broken up.

The company said in a statement that Witty believes “this will be the right time for a new leader to take over.” The move is effective in March 2017.

Like many big pharmaceutical companies, GSK has struggled to handle the challenge of generic drugmakers and come up with new blockbuster drugs to replace medicines with expiring patents.

It has also faced other challenges. Britain’s competition authority has fined GSK 37.6 million pounds ($54.5 million) for stalling the potential entry of generic competitors of anti-depressant drug Seroxat into the marketplace.

GSK is one of the Triangle's largest employers, with more than 3,500 workers at its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park and its drug manufacturing facility in Zebulon.