The Business On... David Brennan, CEO, AstraZeneca

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Not a happy chemist?

Indeed not. Astra yesterday had to announce it was taking a $445m (£287m) charge after giving up on one of its new drugs after regulators in the US refused to clear it. Doubly annoying since the company had approval for another of its most important new drugs only last week.

Back to the test tube, then?

For Astra's scientists, yes indeed. But the point about Mr Brennan is that he's not a scientist – of the five big global pharmaceutical company bosses, he is the only one to have come from a sales background.

A life spent on the road?

Very much so. He started out at Merck in the Seventies, having been persuaded pharmaceuticals was the industry to go for by his research scientist elder brother. His first job was to sell blood-pressure drugs to doctors in Jersey City and since then, he's been all over the world for a string of pharmaceuticals companies.

Maybe it's time he settled down?

Maybe, but while Mr Brennan has bought a family home in St John's Wood, north London, he's kept his place in Philadelphia, his home town, which suggests he'll head back when he's ready.

Will that be soon?

Don't count on it. He's only 57 and colleagues describe him as extremely driven – in everything he does. When he's not travelling the world on AstraZeneca's behalf, which he is three weeks out of four, he's up at 5am in order to get a workout in before heading to the office.

Does he ever take any time off?

A bit – he likes scuba-diving in the Cayman Islands, he says, as well as cycling. He also relaxes by taking photographs.

What are his plans for Christmas?

Well, you can expect him to be catching up with his four children and six grandchildren. And a trip back to the US might be an idea: having kept a foot in both political camps, with donations to the Democrats and the Republicans, he is well placed to ensure AstraZeneca gets the best deal it can from healthcare reform.