Gilead says head of commercial operations to retire

(Reuters) - Gilead Sciences Inc said on Monday that its head of commercial operations for the past decade, Kevin Young, who oversaw tremendous sales growth at the U.S. biotechnology company, will retire next month.

Young, who plans to step down on February 4, has held the top commercial post for the world's leading maker of HIV/AIDS medicines since 2004. During his tenure Gilead's annual sales grew from $1.24 billion in 2004 to about $11 billion in 2013.

"Over the past nine years, he has greatly expanded and strengthened our commercial organization, preparing the company to introduce products in new therapeutic areas," Gilead Chief Executive John Martin said in a statement.

The company said it was not ready to announce any succession plans but said Young will continue to work with Gilead as a senior advisor after his retirement.

Young, 56, leaves the top commercial post just as Gilead is launching what is widely expected to be its biggest and most important new therapy in years - an all-oral regimen for treating hepatitis C that has garnered analyst forecasts for eventual annual sales of $3 billion to $16 billion.

During his tenure, Young oversaw the launch of eight new therapies, including Atripla, the first single tablet regimen for the treatment of HIV, which is the top seller for treating the virus that causes AIDS in the United States and Europe, Gilead said.

Before joining Gilead, Young held posts with U.S. biotech Amgen Inc and British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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