A Tough Act to Follow

A Tough Act to Follow

Last week we learned that Sandra Peterson, will move from heading Bayer’s healthcare unit to heading up their crop science unit. According to a release posted on Bayer’s web site; “Sandra E. Peterson (51) is to be the new Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG. This was decided by the Supervisory Board of the Bayer subgroup at its meeting on Tuesday. Peterson, a U.S. citizen, will join the subgroup’s Board of Management on July 1, 2010 and succeed Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Friedrich Berschauer as Chairman effective October 1, 2010. Said Werner Wenning, Chairman of the Bayer AG Board of Management: “Sandra Peterson has been a successful division head in the Bayer Group for the past five years, having already demonstrated her leadership qualities in various sectors of industry. We are therefore convinced that she has the right profile to successfully lead the CropScience business.” Peterson’s successor as a member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee and Head of the Medical Care Division will be 46-year-old Alan Main, a British citizen, who is currently Head of the Europe Region in Bayer HealthCare’s Consumer Care Division.”

Diabetic Investor for one will be sorry to see Ms. Peterson move on from diabetes and onto crop science as she literally took a division seen as dead by many and completely turned things around. Bayer diabetes has gone from obscurity to nearly second place in the US market. Under Ms. Peterson’s leadership Bayer has launched several innovative products such as the ContourUSB and Didget. The company has also embraced no-coding making it easier for the patient to monitor their glucose levels.

Given the turmoil in the glucose monitoring market Bayer was one of the few companies who understood what patients wanted and didn’t get lost in the let’s make meters pretty colors stupidity. The company knew testing was too much complex and took steps to make testing easier for the patient. They also understood that adults are different than children and non-insulin patients are different than insulin using patients. The ContourUSB and the Didget are perfect examples of this. The ContourUSB was designed for adult insulin users while the Didget, is perfect for kids.

Frankly Mr. Main has some big shoes to fill, or perhaps we should say a large pair of pumps (shoes not insulin pumps). He’ll also take over as the BGM arena is about to undergo a series of changes. As Diabetic Investor outlined last week threats surround the BGM space and the very survival of some companies are at stake. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if at this time next year the players in the game are completely different than they are today. Will Sanofi make a bold move and acquire either Roche’s or Abbott’s diabetes device units? Will insurers continue to reimburse test strips for all patients or will new restrictions be put in place? Can the company survive without an insulin pump? What impact will CGM have as it is more widely adopted? Is there any way to at minimum slow down pricing pressure? These are just some of the issues that will need to be dealt with.

Ms. Peterson joins a list of other giants in diabetes industry who have made a positive impact on patient lives and deserves to be congratulated for doing what many, including Diabetic Investor, thought could not be done; resurrecting a dead product line and declining brand. We wish her well in her new position.