• By Keng Jin Lee
    Novartis
    Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    Novartis will undergo a significant change in leadership with the announcement that Joseph Jimenez will step down after an 8-year stint as CEO.

    Vasant Narasimhan, MD, global head of drug development and chief medical officer, will assume the role of CEO effective February 1, 2018. Dr. Narasimhan has been with the Swiss-based company since 2005, and previously served as head of development.

    "The strength of Novartis is our ability to drive science-based innovation. Vas is deeply anchored in medical science, has significant experience in managing the interfaces between Research and Development and commercial units and has strong business acumen with a track record of outstanding achievements,” said Joerg Reinhardt, chairman of the board of directors. “As a physician, he has a strong patient focus and a genuine humane perspective and care for the mission and values of Novartis."

    The fate of the company's eye care division, Alcon, has become a pressing issue following years of declining sales. After a reorganization in January 2016, the division was put under strategic review earlier this year. And despite a recent bump in second-quarter sales, Jimenez has repeatedly said that "all options are on the table” for the division, including the possibility of an Alcon spin-off.