Pfizer Creates Operating Chief Role

By Jonathan D. RockoffFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Pfizer Inc. named executive Albert Bourla to a newly created position of chief operating officer, putting him first in line to succeed Chief Executive Ian Read.

In the new role, Dr. Bourla will oversee all sales, strategy and drug development at Pfizer. Drug research and associated functions will keep reporting to Mr. Read.

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The move, while putting 56-year-old Dr. Bourla into position to become Pfizer's next CEO, doesn't establish any timetable for a succession, a person familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Read, 64, who is nearing his eighth year as CEO of Pfizer, still enjoys the job and is "in no rush to move out," but wanted to make sure there was an orderly plan for his eventual replacement, the person said.

Mr. Read, in prepared remarks, said adding an operating chief "will enable me to spend more time focusing on the company's long term strategic direction, ensuring continued R&D productivity and engaging with government policy and industry leaders on key issues facing the future of the health-care industry."

Dr. Bourla has been managing Pfizer's portfolio of cancer and other innovative drugs, the company's key source of growth. He has played key roles in the successful launches recently of the Ibrance breast-cancer drug and other new therapies.

The promotion will trigger a larger management shuffle. John Young, who had been heading Pfizer's business selling biosimilars, generic drugs and legacy products, will take over Mr. Bourla's portfolio. Angela Hwang, global president and general manager for Pfizer's inflammation and immunology business, will succeed Mr. Young.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 13, 2017 10:08 ET (15:08 GMT)