Once charged with speeding up Eli Lilly’s slow-mo R&D group, Anne White is handed the reins at Lilly Oncology

Eli Lilly has tapped one of its senior R&D execs to take the top job in charge of Lilly Oncology.

The pharma giant announced that Anne White — who’s been playing a high-level role in an attempt to cut drug development times — is taking the reins from Sue Mahony, who’s completing her planned retirement from the company today. 

Sue Mahony

White has been in charge of “next-gen” research at Lilly, a post that has given her a spotlight role as Eli Lilly lays claim to greater R&D efficiency. After a notoriously long drought in the clinic, the company has improved considerably on that score in the last few years. But it’s rep for a go-slow approach to drug development is deeply entrenched. Even Lilly’s new R&D chief — Dan Skovronsky — has pointed to his frustration with the company’s frequent last-place finishes in competitive R&D arenas and the need for much greater speed.

White’s career has spanned 27 years at Eli Lilly, joining as an engineer before shifting to drug development work. But there was also a 5-year gap from 2005 to 2010, when she worked at a company called Tigris Pharmaceuticals as COO, according to her LinkedIn profile.

David Ricks

This new post puts her in charge of Lilly’s number two franchise arena, behind the all-important diabetes group. Lilly has made Alimta into a blockbuster, as it fends off generic competition for a few more years, with Cyramza and Erbitux offering support, along with other drugs.

“She has led and delivered against our Next Generation Development objectives, accelerating medicines to patients and playing a key role in our recent R&D productivity, declared CEO Dave Ricks in a statement. “Her experience leading significant change transformation within the company will be incredibly valuable as we look toward the future.”

Image: Anne White. ELI LILLY

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