New Shire CEO Ornskov shakes up company after seizing the reins

Flemming Ornskov

Shire's ($SHPG) new CEO wasted no time in putting his stamp on the company's global operations. In his first quarterly report this morning, the newly minted Chief Executive Flemming Ornskov divvied up the marketing operations among five units based on disease categories and forged a single R&D organization for the company.

The new "Pipeline" group will combine R&D and business development, with preclinical research focused on rare diseases--a big growth area for the company--while business development will concentrate on late-stage drug programs and in-market products with an eye to Asian and Latin-American markets.

The 5 new commercial units are Rare Diseases, Neuroscience, GI, Regenerative Medicine and Internal Medicine. 

In its Q1 release today, the company said this new structure would create a "flatter and more scalable structure." It also points all the big decisions to Ornskov. Both the pipeline as well as the "In-Line" marketed product group will be operated by group teams chaired by Ornskov.

Under CEO Angus Russell, the company expanded rapidly. While Vyvanse, an ADHD drug, provides a big chunk of annual revenue, Russell executed on a business plan that calls for expanding the reach of its mainstay therapies, growing a business for human genetic therapies and launching a new division for regenerative medicine. And Shire continued to load the pipeline through a series of small buyouts and licensing pacts.

Ornskov is clearly eager to continue doing deals. Shire recently acquired Lotus Tissue Repair and then added a pair of ophthalmology companies: SARcode Bioscience for $160 million upfront and an unspecified slate of milestones and Sweden's Premacure. Those deals fit neatly with Ornskov's own background in eye diseases. 

One top executive who won't be making the transition is Sylvie Gregoire. The president of Shire Human Genetic Therapies opted to step aside just before Ornskov officially took the title as CEO.

Much of the financial press focused on Shire's numbers this morning, as first quarter sales missed projections and its shares dropped 4%. This has been a bad week for most of the bigger biopharma companies, with falling sales and dwindling profits a common sight across the board.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Flemming Ornskov - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013