Promising growth next year, Viatris names Celgene vet Scott Smith its next CEO

Viatris CEO Michael Goettler guided the company through a period of turbulence and change over the last several years. Now, he's getting ready to hand over the reins.

Viatris is tapping biopharma veteran Scott Smith to become its next CEO, according to a Monday press release. Smith most recently served as president of BioAtla, but, earlier in his career, he worked in positions of increasing responsibility at Celgene.

The incoming CEO is set to officially take over April 1. For the next several weeks, Smith and Goettler will work together to ensure a smooth transition.

During his 10 years at Celgene, Smith worked his way up through the company's inflammation and immunology unit. But it 2018, after he had become the company's chief operating officer, he abruptly resigned.

Now, Smith is taking over at an important moment for Viatris. The company's sales have been sliding since 2020, but the management team has said a company turnaround is nearly complete. Viatris sales slipped 9% in 2022, landing at $16.2 billion. Viatris expects another sales decline this year, projecting a range of $15.5 billion to $16 billion for the year.

Under Viatris' "phase 2" plan, which is set to start in 2024, Viatris plans new product launches to offset revenue losses for its base business. After inking buyouts of Oyster Point Pharma and Famy Life Sciences, the company said it's on the way to becoming a global eye care leader. The company is using proceeds from selling off its biosimilar business to Biocon Biologics to pay down debt, fund its eyecare acquisitions and repurchase shares. 

Viatris formed in November 2020 through the combination of Mylan and Pfizer's Upjohn unit. Goettler served as Upjohn's president before the merger.

In a conference call today, Goettler recapped Viatris' accomplishments under his leadership. He pointed to a strengthened balance sheet and a company that's been reshaped "through key acquisitions and divestitures." Those efforts and others were aimed at "stabilizing" the business. Looking forward, "2024 will begin a period of new growth for Viatris," he said.

For his part, Smith has served on Viatris' board since 2022. Since then, he said he's had a chance to get to understand Viatris' strategy.

"I believe that my background in franchise building, business development and biotech, coupled with the great platform we have to work from, can accelerate Viatris' momentum and help deliver on its full value and potential," Smith said in the press release.