Bayer and Sanofi “swap” Executives

17.09.2018 -

In an unusual strategic use of human resources, European drugmakers Bayer and Sanofi are “swapping” pharmaceutical executives across continents. In one case, it is a return engagement.

Stefan Oelrich is slated to join the Bayer management board on Nov. 1 as new head of the Pharmaceuticals division, succeeding Dieter Weinand, who is leaving the German drug and agriculture giant on the same date to join Oelrich’s current employer, Sanofi, in the US as a member of the Executive Committee

The 50-year-old Oelrich, who spent 25 years at Bayer before joining Sanofi in France, is currently a member of that company’s Executive Committee with responsibility for the global diabetes and cardiovascular business. The German national who was also educated in France in the past held a number of executive positions at Bayer on three continents.

At Sanofi, Oelrich is credited with helping to establish the French drugmaker’s global diabetes and cardiovascular business unit, which he headed in Europe before taking over the global diabetes franchise in 2016 and later being appointed to the Executive Committee as executive vice president Diabetes & Cardiovascular.

Weinand, 58, a German-born US citizen who holds degrees in pharmacology and toxicology from US universities, has headed Bayer’s pharmaceutical division as a managing board member since Jan.1, 2016. He led the division as a member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee from Aug. 1, 2014.

Prior to moving to Leverkusen, over a period of more than 30 years Weinand held commercial, operational and positions at a number of international pharmaceutical players including Warner Lambert, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb as well as Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization in the US.

At the French drugmaker, Weinand will head a newly created primary care unit that combines its diabetes and cardiovascular assets with established products.

In announcing the Oelrich appointment, Bayer said also that its supervisory board has extended the managing board contract of CropScience head Liam Condon (50) by five years until the end of 2023. The contract of managing board member  Hartmut Klusik (62), who as labor director additionally has responsibility for responsible for Human Resources, Technology and Sustainability, was extended until the end of 2019.

The two pharmaceutical heavyweights have not disclosed whether an executive swap was planned, possibly to accommodate both executives, or purely coincidental. Bayer said Weinand is returning to the US for family reasons.

According to US pharmaceutical trade journals, the executive swap may in part be rooted in a strategic changes announced recently by Sanofi. The company has been looking for growth outside of its traditional core areas of diabetes and cardiovascular, as sales of its older insulin treatment Lantus have plummeted on fierce competition and its next-generation basal insulin Toujeo faces US pricing pressure.

This strategy would fit with another plans drafted in Paris that would include establishment of a new global business unit China & Emerging Markets, to be headed by Olivier Charmeil. Sanofi said this business, set to be launched at the beginning of 2019, will focus on “the unique characteristics and growth opportunities in emerging markets,” in particular China, the company’s second largest market after the US.