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GlaxoSmithKline vet departs for Vifor, the rumored target of a $7.1B CSL buyout

With a recent pruritus approval in the books and several more potential launches coming in the next year and a half, Switzerland’s Vifor Pharma is tapping longtime GlaxoSmithKline veteran Hervé Gisserot to tune its commercial pitch.

Gisserot will don the mantle of chief commercial officer at Vifor Jan. 17, the specialty drugmaker said Friday. He’ll also join the company’s executive committee.

Gisserot hails from GSK, where he’s held a clutch of senior vice president roles over the past 13 years. Gisserot currently serves as SVP and head of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, greater China and intercontinental, at the British Big Pharma, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Since 2013, he’s been a staple in GSK’s China business. That year, Gisserot was tapped to right the ship as GSK’s SVP and general manager in China and Hong Kong, replacing GSK’s previous China GM Mark Reilly, PM Live reported at the time. The appointment coincided with a Chinese government bribery probe that yielded a 3 billion yuan ($620.4 million) fine in 2014, Business Times previously wrote.

At the time, Gisserot was reporting to GSK’s president of global pharmaceuticals, Abbas Hussain. Coincidentally, Hussain this year left the board at Australian biotech giant CSL to take up the CEO mantle at Vifor. Meanwhile, CSL is reportedly negotiating an $10 billion Australian dollar ($7.1 billion) deal to buy Vifor, the Australian Financial Review said earlier this month.

At Vifor, Gisserot will oversee four expected approvals and launches over the next 18 months, the company said in a release. Working under him will be Vifor’s U.S. president, the company’s regional commercial heads and its rare disease business unit plus its central commercial, marketing and pricing teams, Vifor said. Gisserot is also on deck to “maximize” Vifor’s iron deficiency portfolio, the company added.

Vifor sells iron deficiency, nephrology and cardio-renal products in more than 100 countries across the globe, according to its website.

“[Gisserot’s] professional background makes him ideally suited to lead the commercial organization and to put a strong focus on execution as we accelerate growth to become a multi-brand organization focused on in-licensing, partnering and commercializing products worldwide,” Hussain said in a statement.

As Gisserot preps for his move, a major deal for Vifor could be brewing. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that CSL was looking to acquire the Swiss company for about $7.1 billion. Talks kicked off in March, but discussions have now become more serious, the Australian Financial Review reported in early December.

Gisserot will also likely have a hand in the launch of the company’s new Cara Therapeutics-partnered pruritis drug Korsuva, which won the FDA’s blessing in chronic kidney disease patients on hemodialysis in August.