Ex-Roche scientist Reed to head Sanofi R&D as Zerhouni retires

(Reuters) - Sanofi said on Tuesday it had hired former Roche top scientist John Reed to head its research operations from July 1, when Elias Zerhouni retires from the French drugmaker.

Reed led Roche’s Swiss-based research efforts for five years before resigning in March for what were described as personal reasons.

Zerhouni has been Sanofi’s head of global research and development (R&D) for the past nine years.

During his tenure he took steps to improve R&D productivity, but Sanofi has still struggled to find enough new products to offset the impact of weak diabetes drug sales, prompting the company to seek growth from outside.

Sanofi struck two big takeover deals in January, agreeing to buy U.S hemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion and Belgium’s Ablynx, which is developing an experimental drug for a rare blood disorder, for 3.9 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Louise Heavens