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Levin steps down, Millennium names new CEO

Levin steps down, Millennium names new CEO

Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. said co-founder and longtime CEO Mark Levin would step down and named the head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.'s head of oncology operations for North America to succeed him.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Millennium (Nasdaq: MLNM - News) said new CEO Dr. Deborah Dunsire would take over the post on or before Aug. 1. Levin will remain a member of company's board of directors while board member Kenneth Weg will take over as nonexecutive chairman.

Dunsire had been head of Novartis' North American Oncology Operations and had helped shepherd many of that firm's major cancer drugs to market in recent years, Millennium said in a statement.

"Deborah has an impressive track record in building and motivating multi-functional organizations to deliver significant revenues and sustainable growth, two key goals for Millennium," Weg said in a statement.

He added that during her tenure, Novartis has developed and launched products such as Zometa, Femara and Gleevec and had strong annual sales growth rates. She also gained experience in overseeing mergers.

Dunsire said she believes Millennium, which has set a goal of becoming profitable in 2006, is "poised for continued growth."

"Millennium can command a strong commercial presence and leverage its robust product pipeline," she added.

Levin, a former venture capitalist, has been at the helm of Millennium since helping to establish it in 1993. The changing of the guard underscores the shift at Millennium away from its original focus on conducting gene research, that it then licensed to third parties, to more of a drug-development firm, a shift that happened through a series of acquisitions in recent years.

That shift has come with a struggle to achieve and maintain profitability, though some progress has been seen of late. In April, the company said it cut net losses to $36.4 million for the first quarter while revenue rose 34 percent to $123.7 million, largely on the strength of its Velcade drug for treating some forms of cancer.

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Levin steps down, Millennium names new CEO: "Levin steps down, Millennium names new CEO"

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