Chutes & Ladders: Novo’s North American head exits after losing the race for CEO

Jakob Riis leaves Novo Nordisk as head of North American businesses after being passed over for the CEO job.

Chutes and Ladders

Welcome to this week's Chutes and Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please send the good word—or the bad—from your shop to Eric Sagonowsky (email) or Angus Liu (email), and we will feature it here at the end of each week.

Novo Nordisk’s disappointed CEO candidate leaves the company

Novo Nordisk
Jakob Riis

Novo Nordisk
Jakob Riis quit as head of North American businesses.

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Jakob Riis, Novo Nordisk’s recently appointed head of North American operations, was quite disappointed at the company’s decision to choose Lars Fruergaard Jørgensen over him to succeed Lars Rebien Sørensen, who stepped down as CEO last September. Riis couldn’t get past losing the race and decided to leave the company that broke his heart. Investors had confidence in the 20-year Novo veteran, but that apparently didn’t sway the company’s verdict. Riis’ job will be taken on by Doug Langa, who came to Novo in 2011 after years at Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline. The Danish company is facing a tough pricing picture and a volatile political scene in the U.S., and Göran Ando, chairman of the company, said that Langa’s “expertise in the area of market access” could help the company deal with those difficulties. FiercePharma

Beleaguered Perrigo bids farewell to longtime CFO

Judy Brown

CFO Judy Brown hit the road.

A few weeks ago, Perrigo just replaced five directors with Starboard Value’s picks in response to pressure from the activist investor, following former CEO Joseph Papa’s departure for Valeant about a year ago. Now, it’s longtime CFO Judy Brown’s turn to say goodbye, along with 750 nonproduction employees. The 15-year Perrigo veteran is headed to Amgen in late April, RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky wrote in a note to clients, and she will be succeeded by Ron Winowiecki as acting CFO. The company has been struggling as shown in its financial prospects—it expects earnings to be between $6.30 and $6.65 per share, much lower than Wall Street’s previous estimate of $7.10. FiercePharma

Lilly undergoes changes in two senior management roles

Johna Norton

Eli Lilly
Johna Norton was promoted to SVP of global quality.

Two SVPs at Eli Lilly are leaving the company: Fionnuala Walsh, Ph.D., is retiring as SVP of global quality after 28 years with the company, and SVP of Corporate Affairs and Communications Bart Peterson will leave “to pursue personal business interests and expand his community volunteer commitments.” Appointed to replace Walsh is also longtime Lilly veteran Johna Norton, who joined the company in 1990 as an analytical chemist and has been serving as VP of global quality for API manufacturing and product R&D since 2012. Peterson served as mayor of Indianapolis, IN., from 2000 to 2007, before joining Lilly in 2009. A search is currently under way for his replacement. Release

> WuXi NextCODE, WuXi AppTec’s genomic information company, announced a series of top exec changes: Hannes Smarason, the company’s former COO, has been appointed as CEO; WuXi AppTec’s SVPs John Long and Alex Fowkes have been named CFO and COO, respectively. Release

> Ipsen’s head of its primary care business, Jean Fabre, is stepping down to pursue a new job elsewhere, and Benoit Hennion will replace him and become company EVP and president of primary care starting from March 13. Release

> Simon Harford, a financial management expert with more than three decades of experience in the pharma industry, will become Parexel’s SVP and CFO from June 1. Release

> Editas Medicine's COO Alexandra Glucksmann will be leaving the gene-editing biotech at the end of this month, with the role being distributed across the management team. Release

> Allergan’s VP of Investor Relations Lisa DeFrancesco decided to leave the pharma company to pursue a career elsewhere. Release

> Veracyte, a genomic diagnostics company focused on reducing unnecessary surgeries and healthcare costs, announced that Christopher Hall was named president and COO, and that John Hanna was promoted to CCO. Release

> Delcath Systems, an oncology-focused specialty pharmaceutical and medical device company, promoted Barbra Keck from SVP of finance to CFO. SEC Form 8-K

> CRISPR Therapeutics hired Jon Terrett, Ph.D., as head of immuno-oncology research and translation. Release

> ERT, a data and technology company that aims to minimize risks in clinical trials, tapped Ellen Street as EVP of cardiac safety. Release

> Sijme Zeilemaker joined Swedish immuno-oncology company Immunicum as senior director of business development. Release