CEO of the Week: Abbott Laboratories CEO Robert B. Ford

Under new CEO Ford, Abbott is providing COVID-19 point-of-care tests.

Under its new CEO Robert B. Ford, Abbott Laboratories is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic with its just released point-of-care test for the detection of the novel coronavirus, delivering positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.

The global pharmaceutical giant based in Abbott Park, Illinois on March 27  announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued an “emergency use authorization” for the molecular point-of-care test that runs on the company’s ID NOW™portable platform.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will be fought on multiple fronts, and a portable molecular test that offers results in minutes adds to the broad range of diagnostic solutions needed to combat this virus,” Ford said. “With rapid testing on ID NOW, healthcare providers can perform molecular point-of-care testing outside the traditional four walls of a hospital in outbreak hotspots.”

Abbott is now making ID NOW COVID-19 tests available to healthcare providers in urgent care settings in the U.S., where the majority of ID NOW instruments are in use today. The company is working with the Trump administration to deploy tests to areas where they can have the greatest impact.

The arrival of the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test came a week after the company launched its Abbott m2000™ RealTime SARS-CoV-2 EUA test, which runs on the m2000™ RealTime System located in hospital and reference labs around the world. Between the two platforms, Abbott expects to produce about 5 million tests per month.

President Donald Trump called the test “a whole new ballgame” and in a  tweet, Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, echoed these sentiments calling it “a game changer,” according to ABC News.

Ford took the helm of Abbott last week, becoming the 13th CEO of Abbott in its 131-year history. He replaced Miles D. White, who remains executive chairman of the board.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead Abbott,” Ford said in November when the succession was announced. “I thank Miles for his mentorship, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do what Abbott people do best – anticipate where science, medicine and technology are going and innovate to best serve our customers, shareholders and communities.”

Ford originally joined Abbott in the company’s diabetes care business in 1996, and has served in many leadership roles within the company, including in the nutrition and medical device businesses. As executive vice president of medical devices, he oversaw the integration of St. Jude Medical, Abbott’s largest acquisition, and led Abbott’s diabetes care business and the launch of FreeStyle®Libre. He was appointed president and chief operating officer in October 2018 before being named CEO.

Headquarters: Abbott Park, Illinois

Age: 46

Education: bachelor’s degree, Boston College; master’s degree in business administration, UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business.

First joined company: 1996

Prior to joining Abbott: product manager, BD

Named CEO: 2020

Ford is No. 106 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies



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