Under New CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer Is Reshaping Itself

Under new CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer is reshaping itself through both acquisitions and spin-offs.

Under new CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer is reshaping itself through both acquisitions and spin-offs.

In June, the New York City-based pharmaceutical giant announced it was buying cancer drug manufacturer Array BioPharma Inc. in Boulder, Col., for $48 per share in cash, for a total of about $11.4 billion.

“Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to deploy our capital to bring breakthroughs that change patients’ lives while creating shareholder value,” said Bourla, who assumed the top post in January. The deal “ends a quiet period on the M&A front” for Pfizer, according to S&P Global.

“The acquisition is the first for Pfizer valued in the billions of dollars since August 2016, when the company bought Medivation Inc. for $14 billion and AstraZeneca PLC’s antibiotics business for $1.6 billion,” S&P Global wrote. “The Array deal is the first total acquisition over $1 billion since CEO Albert Bourla stepped into the role at the beginning of 2019, taking over from Ian Read.”

In late July, Pfizer announced it was spinning off Upjohn, the company’s off-patent branded and generic established medicines business, combining it with U.K.-based Mylan N.V. Pfizer shareholders will own 57% of the combined new company yet to be named, and Mylan shareholders will own 43%.

“We are creating a new champion for global health — one poised to bring world-class medicines to patients across a wide range of therapeutic areas,” Bourla said.

The deal will result in a “new Pfizer” that “will be much leaner and focused on innovative R&D,” according to Pharma Intelligence.

In Pfizer’s second-quarter earning call, Bourla discussed the impact of all of the company’s latest moves, including buying the Swiss clinical-stage biotechnology company Therachon Holding AG and creating a joint venture with U.K.-based GlaxoSmithKline plc, to combine their respective consumer over-the-counter healthcare businesses.

“When all these actions are complete, Pfizer will be a smaller, more focused, science-based company with a singular focus on innovative pharma,” he said. “We believe we will be in a position where our pipeline will be able to move the needle even more dramatically in terms of our long-term growth prospects.”

Indeed, the latest moves should push Pfizer’s five-year revenue compound annual growth rate “higher than it otherwise would have been,” particularly since the “Lyrica LOE cliff will go away,” Bourla said. The company’s

smaller size will also enable growth to be more sustainable.

“We also will still have the financial flexibility to continue to invest in growth while returning capital to our investors,” he said. “These are deliberate steps we are taking to make Pfizer a very different company and one that is even better equipped to fulfill our purpose — breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.”

Before Bourla became CEO, he served as Pfizer’s chief operating officer, and prior to that, he was the group president of Pfizer Innovative Health, responsible for the inflammation and immunology, internal medicine, oncology, rare disease, vaccines and consumer healthcare business groups.

Bourla joined Pfizer’s animal health division in 1993 as technical director of Greece, and since then has held a number of senior global positions across a range of markets and disciplines. He is a doctor of veterinary medicine and holds a Ph.D. in the biotechnology of reproduction from the Veterinary School of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece.


He’s No. 61 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies

Headquarters: New York, NY

Age: 57

Education:Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Ph.D. in the Biotechnology of Reproduction from the Veterinary School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece)

First joined company:  1993

Prior to joining Pfizer: N/A

Named CEO: 2019


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