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Pharma bosses pitch their case

Posted 14 August 2019

Pharma bosses are putting their cases forward to be elected to the next Medicines Australia board, with the competition for places tipped to be the toughest contest seen in years.

Traditionally, sitting directors are returned so big pharma newcomers wanting a place on the industry board will most likely need to unseat a sitting member to gain one of the highly coveted places.

Of the existing board members, AbbVie's Kirsten O'Doherty is unlikely to recontest her directorship after announcing her retirement in July. While this has been temporarily delayed, O'Doherty's case for re-election does not look strong.

Outside O'Doherty's vacancy, there is also one small company vacancy up for grabs after Takeda took over Shire, pushing sitting director Brad Edwards into the large company category.

That leaves Biogen's Chris Stemple as the only small pharma director on the Board. Expected to recontest his seat, competition is expected to be fierce for the two small company spots.

The local heads of Merck, Vifor and Ipsen are among those tipped to be looking to join the board by securing a small company place, meaning Stemple will be up for a fight to keep his place.

Welcoming the strong interest, Medicines Australia chair Anna Lavelle said a number of managing directors had identified they were going to stand, adding the small company directorships "will be hotly contested".

"I'm excited by the fact there is so much interest in this election," Lavelle said. "The worst thing that can happen is apathy."

However, she warned directors considering standing for the board to take the nomination seriously.

"Any director who is standing because they want the role as a stocking filler for their CV is sadly mistaken," Lavelle said. "They will be working and will have responsibilities under the Corporations Act."

She also warned that the job came with the requirement to represent the sector, not their company, and the decisions they made may not always be in the best interests of their company.

She said the board needs to consider how strong MA is as an association and future stewardship for the betterment of the industry.

"It may not help you today but other companies will benefit in the future," she said.

Megan Brodie 

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