When Sanofi stepped in close to six years ago and bought out Genzyme for $20 billion, the pharma giant promoted David Meeker to take the helm of the crucial operation in Boston. Today, Meeker says he’s leaving after 23 years at the company, and he’ll be replaced by the MS franchise chief Bill Sibold.
It was Meeker and Sibold who managed the successful rollout of Aubagio and Lemtrada — which had to battle back from a crushing CRL. The two MS drugs that now make up a significant part of Sanofi’s overall revenue. And it’s Sibold who was in charge of preparing the launch of the newly approved eczema drug Dupixent (dupilumab) — tapped as a likely megablockbuster — as well as sarilumab, which was delayed at the FDA.
Meeker will end his stint at the company at the end of June.
Meeker has maintained a high profile in the Boston hub, which Sibold will inherit. Sanofi, under ex-CEO Chris Viehbacher, emphasized the Boston group after he took over. And when the board booted him, Olivier Brandicourt — who replaced him at the helm — kept that strategy in place.
Sanofi has had a star crossed history on the in-house R&D side of the business. But Regeneron has supplied much of the innovation it lacks, while Sanofi plays a big role in providing the late-stage expertise needed to complete pivotal work.
Sibold’s remit includes Genzyme’s focus on rare diseases along with MS, oncology and immunology.
You can expect Sibold to be assertive. He’s competitive and not the least bit shy about making his case for a company product. Back in 2013, for example, he told me that Sanofi Genzyme had nothing to fear from Tecfidera, on its way to flagship status at Biogen.
“I don’t see any effect of Tecfidera on Lemtrada,” Sibold told me. “I consider them completely different animals.” Lemtrada has had a “profound impact on disability, where patients not only slowed (the disease), some had improvements. That’s something we haven’t seen.”
“I am confident in Bill Sibold’s experience and leadership to build on this strong foundation as we chart the next chapter for Sanofi Genzyme, which has become a real growth driver for Sanofi,” said Olivier Brandicourt in a statement.
Sibold has an MBA from Harvard and a BA in chemistry from Yale.
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