Merck KGaA Names Garijo to Run Serono Biotechnology Unit

Merck KGaA promoted a former Sanofi executive to run its pharmaceutical business as it seeks to overcome competition and drug development setbacks that have dragged down sales.

Belen Garijo, 53, will become president and chief executive officer of Merck Serono as of Oct. 1, the Darmstadt, Germany-based maker of cancer drug Erbitux said today in a statement. She joined Merck Serono as chief operating officer in 2011 from Sanofi, where she led European operations and oversaw the integration of the Genzyme acquisition.

The management change comes as competition for Merck’s best-selling treatments increases and the company faces a dearth of new drugs. Garijo succeeds Stefan Oschmann, 56, who will remain head of pharmaceuticals, overseeing Merck Serono and consumer health as well as biosimilars and Allergopharma, an allergy therapy company Merck bought fully in December.

“I’m absolutely convinced that with today’s management and organizational changes we will be able to fully leverage the growth potential in our pharmaceutical businesses by focusing on fast-growing areas such as the emerging markets and the global allergy market or the rapidly evolving biosimilars market,” Oschmann said in the statement.

Annalisa Jenkins, Merck Serono’s head of global development and medical who joined the company in 2011 from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., will become head of global research and development. Bernhard Kirschbaum, who headed early-stage development, will leave the company Oct. 1, a spokesman said.

Thierry Hulot, leader of the biosimilars unit, will also head up global manufacturing and supply as of Oct. 1. He’ll serve as interim biosimilars head until a replacement is named.

Merck Serono is the largest division of family-controlled Merck and had revenue of 6.4 billion euros ($8.6 billion) last year. Merck also makes lab equipment and filtration systems, liquid crystals for flat-panel television screens and ingredients and pigments for cosmetics and food. The company isn’t related to Merck & Co. of the U.S.

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