UPDATED: In management reorg, Teva taps Actavis alum to helm new global generics unit

Teva CEO Erez Vigodman

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries CEO Erez Vigodman has been a busy man. So busy, in fact, it seems the company's press releases barely keep up with him. Today's announcement: Vigodman has overhauled Teva's ($TEVA) management structure, winnowing out 6 executive jobs and creating two worldwide divisions. And he recruited a pharma-industry vet to take the helm of one of them.

The Israel-based drugmaker, badly in need of a turnaround, will have two commercial units beginning July 1--its Global Specialty Medicines business, set up last year to handle the company's small stable of branded products; and a new Global Generic Medicines Group.

The latter business will naturally be larger than the specialty business; Teva has been a generics giant for years, and Vigodman said earlier this month that Teva would be refocusing on that legacy. The new global group will comprise all of Teva's generics operations, consolidating regional businesses under one umbrella. And it will handle the company's over-the-counter drug business, which includes a joint venture with Procter & Gamble.

To take control of that worldwide unit, Vigodman is bringing in Sigurdur Olafsson, who'll be based in the U.S. Olafsson was recently forced out of Teva's generics rival Actavis ($ACT), after the latter said it would merge with U.S.-based Forest Laboratories.

Olafsson had been president of Actavis Pharma, its global generics business. Sterne Agee analyst Shibani Malhotra said his appointment at Teva is "a significant long-term positive," calling him "one of the key architects in building Actavis."

Teva is also creating a few new functional groups: one for marketing and communications, with EVP Iris Beck-Codner in charge; one overseeing quality, led by EVP Eric Drapé; and another for corporate development, strategy and innovation, whose leader has yet to be appointed.

Vigodman says the usual things about Teva's new organizational structure: it will position the company for sustainable growth, help create value, accelerate its operational overhaul, and so on. Plenty of challenges lie ahead; the company already slimmed down its board, and it's in the midst of a multibillion-dollar cost-cutting and layoffs program. Earlier this month, the company said it would shutter 11 manufacturing plants as part of that cost squeeze, and it's weighing the fate of 16 more.

Plus, it's scrambling to convert as many patients as possible to its newly approved, longer-acting version of the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone, whose original formula goes off patent this month. Its early success with patient-switching has inspired some analysts to dial back their fearsome projections of generic erosion to the Copaxone franchise. 

Meanwhile, Vigodman says Teva is ready to roll with three big branded-drug launches this year: Zecuity, a migraine patched acquired with NuPathe Technologies earlier this year; Adasuve, an inhaled antipsychotic licensed from Alexza, and DuoResp Spiromax, a combo asthma and COPD drug approved in Europe last month.

Special Reports: Top 10 Generics Makers by 2012 Revenue - Teva | Top 10 Drug Patent Losses of 2014 - Copaxone

Editor's Note: This story was updated with an analyst comment.

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