Plus other people on the move in the pharma industry in this week's column.
Top Japanese executives at Novartis have resigned following allegations the unit hid serious potential side effects of leukaemia therapies.
David Epstein, head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, told journalists the senior managers "resigned, they are out of the company," and that "this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and a clear violation of our code of conduct," AFP reported.
"I'd like to once again apologise for Novartis' involvement in this issue," Epstein added.
Outside lawyers hired by Novartis to conduct a probe found sales staff had removed evidence from the office about their involvement in suppressing the results of drug studies. Regulators require research and commercial operations to be strictly separated. The leukaemia drug trials in question involved severe reactions in two patients.
Novartis announced Michael Ferris, from the UK, will replace Hiroko Ishikawa as President of Novartis Holdings Japan, and Dirk Kosche, who is German, will replace Yoshiyasu Ninomiya as head of Novartis Pharma, a division of the Japanese business. Canadian Francis Bouchard will take over from Kazuo Asakawa as director of Novartis Pharma’s oncology unit.
The company said there was a possibility the lawyers’ investigation, which will be completed this summer, could uncover problems with other clinical research, according to Reuters.
In February this year, Novartis hit headlines when Japanese prosecutors raided its Tokyo office over the health ministry’s criminal complaint that Novartis had manipulated data to exaggerate the benefits of Valsartan/Diovan, its popular blood-pressure drug.
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