Vas Narasimhan of Novartis Becomes Chair of PhRMA Board

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 8, 2023) – The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) today announced that Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan, M.D., has assumed the role of chair of the PhRMA Board of Directors. Daniel O'Day of Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Albert Bourla of Pfizer Inc. also assumed new leadership positions on the PhRMA board.

“Science and technology are advancing at an unprecedented pace, leading to significant breakthroughs in medicine. Pushing the cutting edge through R&D, the biopharmaceutical industry brings forward revolutionary treatments and cures, and our association and industry work to ensure patients have access to the medicines they need to live longer, healthier lives,” said Dr. Narasimhan. “It’s in the best interest of patients, health systems, and society at large for government to foster a robust innovation ecosystem through policies that support—rather than discourage—the development of better treatment options and widespread patient access. I’m eager to help lead the association at this pivotal moment for patients and our industry.”

Dr. Narasimhan has been CEO of Novartis since 2018, leading the company in delivering medicines that alleviate some of society’s greatest disease burdens through novel access approaches and technology leadership in R&D. Since joining Novartis in 2005, Narasimhan has held a range of leadership roles, including Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer, and Global Head of Development for Novartis Vaccines. He’s overseen the licensure of more than 30 novel medicines throughout his career, including pediatric vaccines and cell and gene therapies. Prior to Novartis, Narasimhan worked on public health issues such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in India, Africa and South America, and global health and access have remained key focus areas during his time leading the company. In recognition of his sustained efforts to improve human health, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“The new treatments for patients coming out of labs today would have been considered science fiction just a decade ago. But the policy environment threatens this progress, adding to the waiting and uncertainty facing patients hoping for treatments and cures,” said PhRMA President and CEO Stephen J. Ubl. “From his work as a physician addressing global public health issues to his time as a researcher to his vast business experience, Vas is well-positioned for the job of board chair. I look forward to working closely with him and our board as we continue pushing for policies that address the broader affordability challenges patients face while protecting the pipeline of potentially game-changing medicines."

Narasimhan succeeds Ramona Sequeira, president of Takeda’s Global Portfolio Division, as PhRMA board chair.

“Vas’ experience in delivering transformative medicines and expanding access for patients globally will serve our industry well as we continue advancing PhRMA’s considerable efforts to serve patients, support innovation and enhance clinical trial diversity,” said Sequeira. “I look forward to continuing our work with governments and stakeholders to develop policies that make our medicines accessible to patients who need them and to stimulate innovation to develop treatments and cures that do not exist today.”

PhRMA also announced today that Gilead Sciences, Inc. Chairman and CEO, Daniel O’Day, is taking over as board chair-elect and that Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc., will serve as treasurer of the PhRMA board. Mr. O’Day joined Gilead in 2019 following a 30-year career at Roche and Genentech. Over the past four years, O’Day has led the efforts to build on Gilead’s legacy in antiviral medicines and transform the company into one that also develops therapies for cancer and other life-threatening conditions. Under his leadership, Gilead has launched more than six new therapies, rapidly expanded in size and increased its focus on improving health equity. At Pfizer, Dr. Bourla led the company’s response to the pandemic with the development of a safe and effective vaccine and treatment. During his close to 30 years at Pfizer, Dr. Bourla has run a wide variety of businesses across the company and now leads a global team of over 80,000 employees, which has informed his understanding of the needs of patients and the numerous health care systems.

“This is a critical time for our industry where we must focus on solutions that best serve patients while protecting the future of innovation,” said O’Day. “I’m looking forward to working with the Board and all of our members to identify and pursue those solutions in the months ahead.”

“As the world has seen through our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, our industry has the ability to tackle tough problems and deliver life-changing solutions to patients,” said Dr. Bourla. “While the policy environment may be challenging, I am confident in the strength, vision and resiliency of our industry to continue to work toward a better health care system for all patients.”

About PhRMA

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Over the last decade, PhRMA member companies have more than doubled their annual investment in the search for new treatments and cures, including nearly $101 billion in 2022 alone. 

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