Eli Lilly shaking up its executive ranks

Days after taking the helm at Eli Lilly (LLY - Get Report) , David Ricks on Thursday unveiled executive appointments and organizational changes that are aimed at increasing productivity and simplifying the company's global commercial organization.

"Lilly begins 2017 with a clear view of its opportunities for growth in the years ahead," said Ricks, who became president and CEO at the Indianapolis-headquartered pharmaceutical giant on Jan. 1, in a statement.  "The adjustments we are announcing today to pharmaceutical therapeutic and geographic business areas are designed to maximize the potential of our late-stage pipeline and newly launched medicines, while improving productivity."

The appointments include the hiring of Christi Shaw, a former Novartis (NVS - Get Report) executive, to lead the biomedicines business starting April 3. Shaw fills the post held by Ricks before he was promoted to be Lilly's president and CEO. Shaw, who started her career at Lilly, has also worked at the Janssen and Ethicon subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Get Report) .

Lilly also announced that starting Feb. 1, the diabetes, oncology and biomedicines human pharmaceutical therapeutic business areas will have commercial responsibility for their products in China, in addition to the U.S., Japanese and Canadian markets in which they already operate.

Enrique Conterno, senior vice president of Lilly and president of Lilly Diabetes, will take on the additional role of president of Lilly USA. Alex Azar, Lilly USA's president, has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.

Also on Thursday, Lilly announced the formation of Lilly International by combining the emerging markets unit with the Europe business. Lilly International will have commercial responsibility for the human pharmaceutical products in these markets. The company tapped Alfonso (Chito) Zulueta, who has led the emerging markets business for the last three years, to serve as senior vice president of Lilly and president of Lilly International.

Lilly also said Sue Mahony will continue in her role as senior vice president of Lilly and president of Lilly Oncology.

The organizational changes will result in a decrease in the number of leadership positions at the company. Thursday's news release came after Lilly last month announced reductions to its U.S. field force in anticipation of patent expirations for key products later this year and in response to the results of the solanezumab clinical trial. In November, Lilly announced that a phase 3 study of solanezumab in people with mild dementia due to Alzheimer's disease did not meet the primary endpoint.

Shares of Lilly rose about 1% to $75.59 on Thursday's session.