Pfiz­er on­col­o­gy head Liz Bar­rett jumps ship to No­var­tis as Bruno St­rig­i­ni steps aside

Liz Bar­rett

No­var­tis $NVS has found a suc­ces­sor to out­go­ing on­col­o­gy chief Bruno St­rig­i­ni — at Pfiz­er. Liz Bar­rett, cur­rent glob­al pres­i­dent of on­col­o­gy at Pfiz­er, has been tapped to run the show at No­var­tis.

Bruno St­rig­i­ni

Bar­rett has big shoes to fill. The Swiss drug­mak­er has tak­en up a large pres­ence in can­cer since hir­ing St­rig­i­ni — who’s says he’s re­tir­ing from the in­dus­try al­to­geth­er — from a se­nior Mer­ck po­si­tion in the sum­mer of 2014. Par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable are its role in spear­head­ing the first CAR-T to hit the mar­ket and the in­te­gra­tion of GSK’s on­col­o­gy port­fo­lio.

But Bar­rett’s CV sug­gests she’s well equipped for the task. A J&J vet­er­an, Bar­rett has been with Pfiz­er $PFE since 2009. Dur­ing the last three years when she was glob­al pres­i­dent of on­col­o­gy, the phar­ma gi­ant has man­aged to ac­com­plish some break­throughs in that field — first launch­ing breast can­cer ther­a­py Ibrance in­to block­buster ter­ri­to­ry, then mak­ing its way in­to the PD-1/L1 race with Mer­ck KGaA-part­nered Baven­cio. A few months ago Pfiz­er won an ac­cel­er­at­ed OK for its CD22-tar­get­ed can­cer drug Be­spon­sa (in­o­tuzum­ab), for which an­a­lysts are pre­dict­ing peak sales of $2 bil­lion.

Andy Schmeltz

Ac­cord­ing to a Pfiz­er spokesper­son, Andy Schmeltz will suc­ceed Bar­rett in run­ning Pfiz­er’s glob­al can­cer drug unit. Schmeltz is cur­rent­ly SVP, pa­tient & health im­pact, with pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence lead­ing the North Amer­i­ca on­col­o­gy busi­ness dur­ing his 15-year tenure at the com­pa­ny. In that post, he over­saw the launch­es of Xalko­ri, In­ly­ta and Bo­sulif.

“On­col­o­gy re­mains a pri­or­i­ty growth area for Pfiz­er sup­port­ed by ro­bust prod­uct port­fo­lio and de­vel­op­ment pipeline,” the spokesper­son told End­points. “We thank Liz for her con­tri­bu­tions dur­ing her tenure at Pfiz­er.”

The ap­point­ment will bring Bar­rett, who’s cur­rent­ly based in New York City, to Basel, Switzer­land. She’s no stranger to Eu­rope, as she had a short stint in the UK as Pfiz­er’s pres­i­dent in the con­ti­nent.

Vas­ant Narasimhan

She will start on Feb­ru­ary 1, the same day Vas Narasimhan, No­var­tis’ glob­al head of drug de­vel­op­ment, is of­fi­cial­ly el­e­vat­ed as CEO.

“[Liz] has been in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing new com­mer­cial mod­els, dri­ving in­no­va­tion in close part­ner­ship with re­search and de­vel­op­ment and lever­ag­ing busi­ness de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Narasimhan said. “Her long-time com­mer­cial phar­ma in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence, mar­ket­ing skills and per­spec­tives make Liz a great fit to fur­ther de­vel­op our on­col­o­gy busi­ness.”

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Michael Chambers (L) and John Ballantyne

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