Ipsen has revealed that chief executive Jean-Luc Belingard has left the company in what has been a difference of opinion over the French drugmaker's future direction.

The Paris-headquartered group says that Mr Belingard is leaving after he and the board "expressed strategic differences" over the company's long-term objectives. He will be replaced by Marc de Garidel, who Ipsen describes as "an industry veteran" with an "in-depth knowledge of specialty medicine [and] noticeable experience in overseas business development".

Mr de Garidel, who will effectively take over from Mr Belingard on November 22, began his career at Eli Lilly, before moving to Amgen where until recently he headed its southern European and emerging markets divisions.

Ipsen says that the step was necessary "in a deeply changing pharmaceutical market environment and following the significant investments" it has made abroad in the past few years. Mr de Garidel's mission will now be to strengthen the firm's US and emerging markets operations.

Despite the rift, Ipsen paid a warm tribute to Mr Belingard for his "outstanding contribution to Ipsen's development during his nine-year tenure at the helm of Ipsen". He "transformed the group, achieving a global footprint in specialty medicine," the firm said.