STERLING's NEW CHAIRMAN IS KODAK VETERAN LEO THOMAS, PhD
STERLING's NEW CHAIRMAN IS KODAK VETERAN LEO THOMAS, PhD, who will head the Kodak drug division following the resignation of John Pietruski. The top drug/healthcare exec at Kodak prior to the Sterling acquisition, Thomas was made vice chairman at Sterling, with responsibility for U.S. pharmaceutical operations, following the realignment at Kodak in May to accomodate the new drug business ("The Pink Sheet" May 23, T&G-3). Thomas' elevation to chairman becomes effective Sept. 1. Although committed to working through Kodak's integration of Sterling, Pietruski notified Kodak in May of his plans to leave. A Sterling spokesman said that Pietruski "has several options under consideration." Pietruski has been with Sterling since 1977; his first appointment was head of the firm's U.S. pharmaceutical business after joining the company from C.R. Bard, where he had last served as president of Bard's hospital supply division. Pietruski was promoted to Sterling group VP in 1978, and president and COO in 1983. He was elected chairman and CEO in 1985. Pietruski, chairman and CEO at Sterling since 1985, explained his resignation in an Aug. 10 letter to employees. Pietruski noted that "when a publicly owned corporation loses its independence it is not unusual for there to be significant changes in the duties of the acquired company's chief executive officer. Now that Sterling is no longer an independent company, I have experienced a similar change in my position." Thomas is a 27-year Kodak veteran who began his career with the company in 1961 as a research chemist. After a number of research appointments, Thomas was promoted to company VP and director of laboratories in 1977, and senior VP in 1978. In 1984, he was named general manager of Kodak's newly-formed Life Sciences Group. Along with the promotion to chairman, Thomas was named a Kodak senior VP on Aug. 12. Pietruski's departure and the promotion of Thomas will just about complete the changing of the guard at Sterling. Since the Kodak acquisition was announced in February, James Andress, former president and COO of Sterling, has left to run Beecham Pharmaceuticals ("The Pink Sheet" June 6, T&G-1) and Bernard Ouellette, former president of Sterling Pharmaceuticals, has taken a job across town from Kodak as president and CEO of Praxis Biologics ("The Pink Sheet" July 11, T&G-1). Lawrence Chakrin, PhD, former Sterling Research Group president, still provides consulting services to the company. The highest ranking executive from the former Sterling management group is now Louis Mattis, president of Sterling Drug. With the promotion of Thomas to chairman, Mattis will have "expanded responsibilities in the operational areas of the organization, including the Pharmaceuticals Group and Lehn & Fink," Kodak noted in an Aug. 11 press release. On Aug. 12, he was named a corporate VP at Kodak. Mattis joined Sterling in 1987 as president of Sterling International after eight years at Rich-Vicks, where he was exec VP. An Aug. 12 letter to Sterling employees from Thomas and Mattis outlines the responsibilities of the two execs. As chairman, Thomas will have "overall executive responsibility for the company and its strategic direction" with corporate staff functions reporting "directly to the chairman." As president, Mattis will have responsibility for the Pharmaceutical Group, Lehn & Fink, Sterling International, Sterling Organics, strategic resources, corporate manufacturing and advertising services. The latest round of management changes comes amidst rumours of divestiture plans for those parts of Sterling that may not fit into Kodak's plans. Colgate-Palmolive is rumored to be pursuing Sterling's Lehn & Fink household products division. Also press reports have the West German firm Bayer A.G. negotiating with Kodak for Bayer aspirin and other parts of Sterling's OTC business. Kodak denied interest in divesting the consumer products businesses in an Aug. 12 interview in the Wall Street Journal.
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