The current head of global pharma technical operations at Roche (OTC:RHHB.Y) is jumping ship to take the lead role at Lonza (OTC:LZAG.Y). Pierre-Alain Ruffieux will become the new chief executive officer of the contract development and manufacturing organization on Nov. 1.  

Ruffieux has the extensive biopharmaceutical experience that Lonza's board of directors was looking for. Prior to managing a team of 12,000 at Roche, he worked for the other Swiss drug-making giant, Novartis, and has more than 20 years of industry experience. 

Banknotes and assorted pharmaceuticals.

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Lonza's chairman, Albert Baehny has been in the CEO role since Marc Funk quit last November for unexplained personal reasons, just nine months after arriving on the job.

Ruffieux's appointment is a sign Lonza will continue to focus on its surging pharmaceutical business and rather than its stagnating chemical supply segment. During the first quarter, the company's biopharmaceutical segment generated $1.3 billion, an 8.3% increase year over year. The chemicals segment's sales, by contrast, rose just 3.8% to $425 million. 

Ruffieux's experience could be especially useful when it comes to the company's partnership with Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA). In May, Lonza signed an agreement to cooperate on the manufacture of up to 1 billion doses annually of Moderna's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273. The companies expect to begin producing the first batches of mRNA-1273 in the U.S. in July.