New Leadership at Roche: Long-Standing CEO Severin Schwan Steps Down

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Swiss pharma giant, Roche, has announced a change in leadership that will see Severin Schwan replaced by diagnostics division head, Thomas Schinecker, after a 14-year stint as CEO.

Schinecker, who became a contender for the role by leading the company’s efforts in developing a COVID-19 test kit, growing sales by 29 percent to USD 19.4 billion, will assume control in March of next year with Schwan then becoming board chair and replacing Chris Franz.

Schwan, who took the helm in 2008, led the company through the USD 46.8 billion acquisition of Genentech that made it a leader in biologic cancer drugs. In addition, the exiting CEO drove Roche’s diversification with the hemophilia drug, Hemlibra, and the multiple sclerosis treatment, Ocrevus. During his tenure, Schwan also oversaw the acquisition of Spark Therapeutics, giving the Swiss giant the first gene therapy for an inherited disease to be approved in the US.

Throughout his long stretch as CEO, Schwan has had to weather a few storms, mainly the decline in oncology in the face of Rituxan, Avastin and Herceptin biosimilars. Andre Hoffman, vice president of Roche’s board, credited Schwan with leading the company “confidently and successfully through challenging times.”

Along with the CEO change, Roche announced its earnings for the first six months of the year reporting a 3 percent year-over-year increase in sales totaling to about USD 23 billion.


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