Teva CEO Erez Vigodman to Step Down

By Ezequiel Minaya, Jonathan Rockoff Business Leaders Dow Jones Newswires

The chief executive officer of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world's largest maker of generic drugs by sales, is stepping down, the company said Monday.

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Chairman Yitzhak Peterburg will serve as interim CEO, succeeding Erez Vigodman, effective immediately. Mr. Peterburg will relinquish the chairman's post; and Sol Barer, a member of Teva's board, has been elected chairman, the company said.

The company's board has launched a search for a permanent replacement. Teva shares declined 1% to $34 after hours.

Mr. Vigodman hadn't been in the job very long, taking the helm of the Israeli drugmaker in January 2014. He had succeeded Jeremy Levin, who also left after a short time in the role due to a falling out with Teva's board. The company didn't give a reason for Mr. Vigodman's departure.

"I believe that now is the right time for me to step down," Mr. Vigodman said.

Mr. Vigodman, an Israeli, had been serving on Teva's board and was familiar with the company. But he lacked a drug-industry background, having run agrochemical and food companies.

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At Teva, he doubled down on its focus on selling generic drugs. Last year, Teva paid $40.5 billion for Allergan's generic-drugs business. Yet the sector has been hurt by pricing pressures.

Teva's challenges have been compounded by mounting competition for its top-selling product, a brand-name multiple-sclerosis drug named Copaxone.

Last month, a U.S. federal court invalidated four patents protecting Copaxone, a decision that could pave the way for Mylan NV to launch a generic version. Teva said it would appeal the ruling.

The developments have sent Teva shares down more than 7% this year so far.