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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Hikma Pharmaceuticals appoints new chief executive amid generics woes 

Jordan’s top drug-maker has struggled with US competition and regulatory roadblocks

A Hikma Pharmaceutical lab in Jordan. Salah Malkawi / The National
A Hikma Pharmaceutical lab in Jordan. Salah Malkawi / The National

Hikma Pharmaceuticals appointed Sigurdur Olafsson as its new chief executive, as Jordan’s largest drug maker looks to stabilise its business following a series of cuts to its revenue forecasts.

Said Darwazah, Hikma’s current chairman and chief executive, will assume the role of executive chairman, the company said in a statement, adding that the top managerial changes will come into effect immediately.

London-listed Hikma, which develops, manufactures and markets branded and non-branded generic and in-licensed drugs, lowered revenue guidance in November for its generics business for a third time in six months, citing intense competition in the US and regulatory challenges in the US.

The firm cut anticipated revenues for 2017 for the business to around US$600m, predicting a single-digit core operating margin.

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Hikma also said in November that it remained in dispute with the US’s Food and Drug Administration over its plans to launch a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s popular lung drug Advair. The dispute process is due to be completed in the first quarter of 2018.

Mr Olafsson, a 25-year pharmaceutical industry veteran who has held a number of leadership roles at some of the world’s largest generic drug companies, will also join the company’s board as an executive director subject to election at Hikma’s shareholders meeting scheduled in May, it said.

“We are confident that his deep sector knowledge, paired with his proven ability to drive growth, will help us achieve our ambitions for the business,” said Mr Darwazah.

Mr Olafsson’s appointment was well-received by the market, sending Hikma’s share price soaring as much as 10.8 per cent.

Hikma became the first Jordanian company to be included in the UK’s FTSE 100 share index in 2015. However its share price plummeted 40 per cent last year on the back of its three revenue forecast cuts, leading to its ejection from the index.