Mylan crowns ex-CEO Coury as exec chairman as Upjohn merger drags on

Robert Coury
Robert J. Coury previously served as executive chairman from 2012 to 2016. (Mylan)

With the coronavirus pandemic pausing FTC reviews and complicating supply chains, Mylan is flying a holding pattern on its megamerger with Pfizer's Upjohn unit and scrambling to deal with worldwide drug demand at the same time. Looking for a steady hand in trying times, Mylan found just the man for the job—again. 

The generics giant is bringing back Robert J. Coury, its current chairman of the board and former CEO, to the role of executive chairman as the drugmaker navigates its way through the final stages of a generics megamerger with Pfizer's Upjohn unit, the company said Wednesday. 

Coury, who stepped away from the CEO role in 2012 in favor of Heather Bresch, previously held the executive chairman's job from 2012 to 2016. 

Coury's promotion will "formalize and align" his title to the work he's already been doing as Mylan responds to the novel coronavirus pandemic and pieces together its integration plans for the Upjohn merger, Mylan said. Coury's new title will carry over to his planned role at the merged company, dubbed Viatris. 

In taking on the new title, Coury will keep his base salary of $1.8 million a year, with any additional compensation "determined by the Viatris Board of Directors (should the merger close) or by the Mylan Board if it does not," according to an SEC filing. 

RELATED: Pfizer, Mylan say COVID-19 delays will postpone their Viatris merger

That small caveat reads as particularly ominous after Mylan and Pfizer delayed the Viatris merger past its mid-2020 close date due to "unprecedented circumstances" surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In March, the drugmakers said they would postpone the close until the second half of 2020, citing "delays in the regulatory review process" associated with COVID-19. At the time, Mylan said it did not expect any changes to the terms of the deal.

RELATED: Pharma's top jet-setting executives of 2018

Later in the month, hoping to get the regulatory ball rolling, Mylan and Upjohn agreed to concessions as part of the European Commission's antitrust review of the merger, according to a commission filing. While the EU did not disclose what those concessions were, the sale of competing assets in merging drugmakers' portfolios is often a prerequisite for antitrust clearance. 

If the Viatris merger does pass muster, the new company would refresh Coury's long run as Mylan's head––a tenure not without controversy. 

In recent years, Coury has stood out among biopharma executives for his outsized pay packages and corporate perks. His exit package, granted as he stepped down from the executive chairman job, amounted to $97 million. And a remarkably lucrative corporate jet arrangement, for instance, still provides him up to 70 hours of flight time or a $1.5 million check. That allowance––nearly three times higher than the second-place finisher, AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez––put Coury at the top of FiercePharma's top "jet-setting" executives list for 2018. 

Suggested Articles

Lupin Pharmaceuticals has shut down an Indian generics plant after 18 workers tested positive for COVID-19, Reuters reported.

Merck KGaA could see billions of dollars in revenue opportunity as it assists certain players with their COVID-19 scale-up, an analyst says. 

The FDA approved Johnson & Johnson's Tremfya as the first IL-23 inhibitor to treat psoriatic arthritis, joining a suite of immunology blockbusters.