Sandoz's CEO Stepping Down This Month

March 16, 2019
The Center for Biosimilars Staff

This week, Novartis announced that Richard Francis, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company’s Sandoz division, will step down on March 31.

This week, Novartis announced that Richard Francis, chief executive officer (CEO) of the company’s Sandoz division, will step down on March 31.

In a statement, Novartis’ CEO, Vas Narasimhan, thanked Francis for his work over the past 5 years, and highlighted the fact that Sandoz had become a global leader in biosimilars under Francis’ leadership.

Francis, also in a statement, said that he was particularly proud of Sandoz’s successful launch of 5 biosimilars. He signaled that his reason for resigning is personal in nature, saying, “As we announced earlier this year, Sandoz is embarking on a significant transformation. While I am excited by this, I realize that this is a multi-year journey which I cannot commit to and therefore have decided that now is the right time to step down."

Francis will be replaced by an interim CEO, Francesco Balestrieri, MBA, who is currently the region head of Sandoz in Europe. Balestrieri has spent the last 8 years heading up commercial operations related to Sandoz’s generic drugs.

"I would like to thank Francesco for stepping up to take on this role. His leadership approach and business experience will be of great importance as we continue the Sandoz transformation,” said Narasimhan.

In 2018, Novartis signaled that it would shift Sandoz’s focus; Reuters reported that Narasimhan told analysts that “When you think about how we’re going to drive Sandoz moving forward, a lot of it is about executing a strategy of transformation and shifting the focus to complex generics and biosimilars.”

Novartis also rebuffed rumors that it planned to spin off the Sandoz unit, saying that Sandoz would remain a pillar of the company.