Novartis CEO Jimenez to step down early next year

Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez will step down early next year and be replaced by fellow American Dr. Vasant Narasimhan, the Swiss pharmaceutical company said Monday.

Narasimhan, currently its chief medical officer and global head of drug development, will take over the top job on Feb. 1, Novartis said.

Jimenez, who has been CEO since 2010, said that it was right moment to hand over and his family “is ready to return to Silicon Valley and the U.S.”

Narasimhan joined Novartis in 2005 and has held a variety of leadership positions at the company.

In a statement Monday, Novartis said Jimenez will remain “available for advice and support” until he officially retires Aug. 31.

Jimenez has been credited with helping the maker of Gleevec leukemia drug, hypertension treatment Diovan and Theraflu cold and flu treatment to focus on its top businesses while divesting non-core units. Novartis also owns eye care products company Alcon and generics maker Sandoz.

“Joe focused Novartis on leading global businesses, while divesting non-core divisions,” Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said in the statement. “Under his leadership the innovation pipeline was rejuvenated, and we successfully navigated the patent expirations of our two largest products.”

Reinhardt said he expected a “smooth transition” in part because Jimenez “mentored his successor.”

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