Biogen appoints Christopher Viehbacher as CEO and president

Christopher A. Viehbacher has been named president and chief executive officer of Biogen Inc. as well as a member of the board of directors, effective as of November 14, according to a statement from the company, Biogen said in a press release.

Viehbacher’s appointment as Biogen CEO comes after Michel Vounatsos, who’d been the company CEO since 2017, announced he was stepping down.

“The selection of a new CEO has been front-of-mind for Biogen investors since Mr. Vounatsos’ announced departure,” said Wedbush analyst Laura Chico.

Viehbacher has a plethora of worldwide experience working with established pharmaceutical corporations and innovative biotech startups. After spending 20 years working for GlaxoSmithKline, he became CEO of Sanofi, a position he held for six years.

During that time, the company shifted to new growth areas, including Dupixent, which came about as a result of a partnership with Regeneron, and rare and specialty medications as a result of the acquisition of Genzyme.

Sanofi’s R&D pipeline was reinforced and diversified under Viehbacher’s direction.

“I look forward to Chris leading Biogen to the next chapter of its evolution and, on behalf of the board, I pledge our support to his effort,” says Stelios Papadopoulos, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Biogen.

According to Papadopoulos, Viehbacher is one of the few pharma executives who has a clear awareness of the challenges of managing a multibillion-dollar global pharma company as well as a profound understanding of the importance of innovation. The combination of these qualities gave him the ability to transform Sanofi and leave behind a significantly better organization than the one he had inherited.

“It is both an honor and an exciting opportunity to join the Biogen team. I greatly admire Biogen for its determination and resilience in pioneering important new medicines to address some of the most difficult and challenging conditions in healthcare. I am inspired by Biogen’s mission and untapped potential and look forward to working with the dedicated Biogen team to build an even stronger company for the benefit of patients, stakeholders, and investors,” Viehbacher said.

The biopharma industry veteran most recently co-founded Gurnet Point in 2015 and remained there for seven years.

Biogen, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi are all members of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

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