Bisaro, Amneal poach top Allergan exec for CEO's chair

Allergan Chief Operating Officer Robert Stewart is leaving the company to head up Amneal.

Ahead of an expected merger, the combined company of Amneal-plus-Impax has a new CEO. The drugmaker lured Allergan Chief Operating Officer Robert Stewart away to be its next leader during a tough time for the generic industry. 

Amneal and Impax expect their merger will wrap up in the first half of 2018, with the combined company jumping to the fifth-largest U.S. generics company when the deal closes.

Impax CEO Paul Bisaro—who was formerly Actavis' CEO and chairman at Allergan once it merged with Actavis—will take the executive chairman post of the combined drugmaker, while Amneal's co-founders and co-CEOs, Chirag and Chintu Patel, will serve as co-chairmen. Stewart served alongside Bisaro during a successful tenure at Actavis when that company was on an M&A-fueled growth spurt, picking up Forest Labs and then Allergan for $70 billion. He joins Amneal on Jan. 25.

As industry watchers know, the Amneal-Impax deal comes at a time when pricing pressure has ravaged players large and small in the generics space. In response, the industry has been consolidating to fight back against payers looking to clamp down on spending. Severely struggling from pricing pressure and other factors, Teva said last week it would lay off 14,000 workers. 

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A famed dealmaker, Bisaro joined Impax in March, and in September, rumors of a potential deal with Amneal started swirling. The drugmakers announced their merger in October. 

RELATED: Bisaro to cut first and buy later as he works to restore Impax Labs' fiscal health

As for Allergan, the now-brand-focused company is promoting Wayne Swanton to its COO post, where he'll lead manufacturing, quality, supply chain operations, procurement and more. He previously helped the company through its acquisitions of Forest Labs and Allergan, both when it was under its former moniker Actavis. After Actavis and Allergan merged, the company sold its generics offerings to Teva for $40.5 billion. 

Stewart's departure from Allergan follows a decision in September by the company's chief financial officer, Teresa Hilado, to retire as soon as the company can find a successor. And it comes after a tough few months for the company following its controversial move to license Restasis patents to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in order to defend against an inter partes review at the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. 

The strategy sparked widespread condemnation, but it ultimately didn’t help Allergan against generic drugmakers, as a federal court struck down Restasis patents in a separate case. Allergan argued it did the tribal licensing deal to defend against a "double jeopardy" of patent attacks.