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New CEO takes over evolving drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb

This April 2015 photo provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb shows newly named CEO Dr. Giovanni Caforio. Caforio, a physician, became CEO as the company's annual meeting in Plainsboro, N.J., ended Tuesday, May 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Bristol-Myers Squibb)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has a new leader, Dr. Giovanni Caforio, who became CEO as the company’s annual meeting in Plainsboro, New Jersey, ended Tuesday.

Caforio is a physician — a rarity in the biopharmaceutical industry, where most executives trained in law, marketing and business management.

Here is a look at the new CEO and other highlights from the meeting:

THE NEW BOSS

Caforio, a 50-year-old native of Italy, has a medical degree from the University of Rome. After working for 12 years in various leadership positions at the former Abbott Laboratories Inc., he joined Bristol-Myers in 2000, as vice president for medicine sales in Italy.

Caforio moved up through the executive ranks, becoming president of global marketing of cancer medicines in 2011, chief commercial officer in 2013 and, last June, chief operating officer.

He speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese as well as English and Italian, and lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

THE OLD BOSS

Lamberto Andreotti, 64, served as the New York-based company’s CEO for five years, working to reshape its portfolio of existing and experimental drugs. He now becomes chairman of the board of directors and plans to keep that post after retiring on Aug. 3.

VOTING RESULTS

Preliminary tallies of stockholder votes show: each board member was re-elected with at least 94 percent of shares voted; 56 percent of shares voted backed approving top executives’ compensation; and a shareholder proposal to enable stockholders to take action by written consent between annual meetings failed, getting only 37 percent of votes.

BETTING ON BIOTECH

Through divestitures, acquisitions and internal growth, Bristol-Myers has been transforming itself over nearly a decade from a maker of Enfamil infant formula and prescription pills for the masses into a specialized biopharmaceutical company.

Bristol-Myers now focuses on biologic drugs, which are produced in living cells, and other medicines for complex, chronic conditions such as cancer and blood-borne viruses, all of which command extremely high prices.

Andreotti said sales are growing quickly for new cancer medicines Yervoy and Opdivo. They’re part of the hot new field called immuno-oncology, drugs that use various mechanisms to help the immune system better recognize and attack cancer cells, thus increasing survival rates.

The company is again seeking approval for experimental hepatitis C drug Daklinza, and Bristol-Myers also has two new HIV drugs in the final stage of human testing.

Meanwhile, it has 12 experimental medicines in human testing, for diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, thrombosis, fibrosis and genetically defined diseases.

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Follow Linda A. Johnson at https://twitter.com/lindaj_onpharma

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