When Sweden's Astra merged with Britain's Zeneca in April, 1999, to create the world's No. 5 drugmaker (AZN), some critics wondered whether newly appointed CEO Tom McKillop was up to the task. After all, the 30-year Zeneca veteran, a chemist with a PhD, had never run a big corporation. In fact, while growing up in Glasgow, the miner's son never figured he would become a businessman. But he has surprised the doubters--and himself.
McKillop, 57, who says he functions on just four hours of sleep, completed the new company's integration in a whirlwind 80 days. While other drug megamergers--such as Britain's Glaxo-SmithKline--are still works in progress, AstraZeneca PLC is already realizing big savings from its merger. It helped that McKillop, who prides himself on being a plainspoken, no-nonsense, hands-on manager, found few turf battles. He even managed a public spin-off of the company's agrochemical business in conjunction with rival Novartis (NVS).
McKillop has big hopes for such new products as schizophrenia drug Seroquel and prostate-cancer treatment Casodex. Generic versions of the company's blockbuster ulcer treatment Prilosec will be available in 2001. "You have to reinvent the business every decade," he says. This is one scientist who is not stuck in the ivory tower.