Pfizer CEO Ian Read to step down at year's end, will remain executive chairman

Read, 56, who has been at the helm of the pharmaceutical giant  since December 2010, will remain as executive chairman of the board and be succeeded by deputy Alberta Bourla, the current chief operating officer, who previously led Pfizer’s Innovative Health business.

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The succession plan had been in the works for years, according to the board’s lead independent director Shantanu Narayen, who said Bourla was tapped after a successful performance in his previous positions within the company.

“Now is the right time for a leadership change, and Albert is the right person to guide Pfizer through the coming era,” Read said. “With 25 years at Pfizer, he has developed an extensive knowledge of the industry and demonstrated an ability to build and grow businesses. With Albert at the helm, our dedicated colleagues across the globe are poised to deliver the next stage of growth.”

Since Read assumed the role of chief executive eight years ago, the company has received 30 FDA approvals, with the potential for approximately 25-30 approvals through 2022. The company also dealt with the multibillion blow of losing patent protection on its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor. The company will also lose patent protection on its pain drug, Lyrica, which generated $3.5 billion in U.S. sales last year.

In most recent quarter the company generated $13.47 billion in revenue. The company lowered its 2018 revenue expectation to between $53 billion and $55 billion, from as much as $55.5 billion due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar.

The pharma giant also faced fierce scrutiny from President Trump in early July, after it was reported by The Wall Street Journal that the company raised prices on multiple drugs by “double-digit percentages.”

“Pfizer & others should be ashamed that they have raised drug prices for no reason,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They are merely taking advantage of the poor & others unable to defend themselves, while at the same time giving bargain basement prices to other countries in Europe & elsewhere. We will respond!”

A day later, Pfizer announced it would defer the company’s price increases that were effective on July 1 to give Trump an “opportunity to work on his blueprint to strengthen the healthcare system and provide more access for patients.” Prices will remain as is until Trump’s blueprint for health care is implemented or the end of the year, whichever is sooner.

As a result of Pfizer’s price rollback, Trump praised the company, saying it was “great news for the American people.”

“Just talked with Pfizer CEO and [U.S. Department of Health Secretary Alex Azar] on our drug pricing blueprint. Pfizer is rolling back price hikes, so American patients don’t pay more,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!”

Pfizer shares have gained nearly 22 percent year.