Teva CEO exits in ongoing crisis of confidence at drugmaker

Tue Feb 7, 2017 1:45pm EST
 
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By Tova Cohen and Steven Scheer

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA: Quote) was left without a permanent chief executive on Tuesday after Erez Vigodman stepped down, leaving new management to restore confidence in the world's biggest generic drugmaker after a series of missteps.

A string of costly acquisitions, along with delayed drug launches, have sent Teva shares plummeting and led to calls for management and structural changes, including a possible split into separate generic and branded medicine units.

Teva, Israel's largest company, said late on Monday that Vigodman was departing immediately and would be replaced on an interim basis by Chairman Yitzhak Peterburg.

Investors say Teva, which faces pricing pressure in its core generics business and recently lost patent protection on its key branded drug Copaxone for multiple sclerosis, must choose a new CEO with extensive pharmaceutical experience.

The new boss needs to set a clear strategy, said Eldad Tamir, head of investment house Tamir Fishman, whose funds have cut their holdings in Teva by 90 percent in the past two years.

"Is it the biggest generics company or is there an understanding that generics is hitting a glass ceiling and it should do other stuff such as investing more in branded drugs?" he told Reuters.

Teva's bad run continued on Tuesday, when the company said it was being investigated in Israel over the same issues that led to a $519 million U.S. bribery settlement in December over criminal and civil allegations that it bribed overseas officials to gain business.

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Erez Vigodman, President and CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical, participates in a panel discussion at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage