Former Sanofi head Christopher A Viehbacher appointed as Biogen new President, CEO

Cambridge: Biogen Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Christopher A. Viehbacher as President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors, effective November 14. Viehbacher succeeds Michel Vounatsos, who has led the company since 2017.

Viehbacher has extensive international experience in both large pharmaceutical companies and entrepreneurial biotech companies. After 20 years with GlaxoSmithKline, he served as global CEO of Sanofi for six years, during which time the company overcame the loss of exclusivity of most of its portfolio and pivoted to new sources of growth such as Dupixent, which resulted from the partnership with Regeneron, and in rare and specialty medicines following the acquisition of Genzyme. Under Viehbacher’s leadership, Sanofi strengthened and diversified its R&D pipeline and delivered significant value to shareholders.

More recently, Viehbacher and Ernesto Bertarelli co-founded Gurnet Point Capital, a Cambridge-based healthcare investment fund, which has led to the creation and continuing development of many innovative companies. He has also chaired or been a member of the board of a number of entrepreneurial companies in biotechnology. Viehbacher has always been a strong advocate for innovation and public health. He has received a number of awards including the Légion d’Honneur from France.

Stelios Papadopoulos, Ph.D., Chairman of the Board of Biogen, said: “Chris is the rare pharma executive who has a keen understanding of the complexities involved in running a multibillion-dollar global pharma business as well as a deep appreciation for the value of innovation. It was the combination of these attributes that enabled him to turn around Sanofi and leave behind a much better company compared to the one he inherited. 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.”

Mr. Viehbacher said: “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.”

Mr. Papadopoulos added, “I want to thank Michel for his significant contributions to Biogen and for his passionate commitment to our mission. He will be leaving Biogen with strong foundations for growth. We appreciate that Michel will remain employed by the company for a limited period of time to help ensure a smooth transition.”

Mr. Vounatsos said, “It has been a privilege to lead this great company and work with so many outstanding people for nearly six years. With 30 clinical programs, 12 of which are in Phase 3 or filed, Biogen is at an important inflection point in CNS drug discovery and development. I am confident that Chris will be an excellent new leader of Biogen. With several potential breakthroughs in areas of high unmet needs on the horizon, I believe the best is yet to come for Biogen and its patients.”

Read also: Former JnJ executive Mathai Mammen emerges as top candidate to head Biogen as CEO: Report

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