NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Bristol-Myers ( BMY) named Lamberto Andreotti, its current chief operating officer, as the next CEO of the drugmaker.

Andreotti will be named CEO in May when James Cornelius, the current CEO, steps down. Cornelius will remain chairman.

Bristol-Myers said Andreotti was named president and chief operating officer a year ago and is responsible for the company's global pharmaceutical business.

He takes over as CEO as Bristol-Myers will lose patent protection in 2012 for its blockbuster blood thinner drug Plavix.

"While challenges lie ahead, we are confident we can overcome them as we continue to successfully execute and deliver operationally, financially and strategically to maximize our future opportunities," Andreotti said in a statement.

Bristol-Myers' shares closed Tuesday at $24.72.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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