As cri­sis deep­ens, Teva's board sees off CEO Erez Vigod­man and an ac­tivist urges a split in­to two com­pa­nies


The re­volv­ing door out­side Te­va’s ex­ec­u­tive suite is spin­ning again. A lit­tle more than three years af­ter Je­re­my Levin was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly pushed out of the CEO’s job, his suc­ces­sor is fol­low­ing in the same path, just days af­ter back-to-back set­backs on sales pro­jec­tions and the loss of some key patents. And an ac­tivist in­vestor says the lat­est signs of tur­moil at Te­va should spur a move to split the com­pa­ny be­tween its gener­ic op­er­a­tions and the brand­ed group backed by a pipeline.

Te­va says that Erez Vigod­man is gone by “mu­tu­al agree­ment.” Chair­man Yitzhak Pe­ter­burg is step­ping up to the helm while the hunt be­gins for a new CEO. And Cel­gene co-founder and biotech en­tre­pre­neur Sol Bar­er is tak­ing the chair­man’s job.

The Is­raeli com­pa­ny has been a per­pet­u­al dis­ap­point­ment over the past year to many an­a­lysts. Vigod­man has been crit­i­cized for pay­ing too much in its gener­ics deal with Al­ler­gan. And his rep for tak­ing the wrong step was re­in­forced at the be­gin­ning of this year when Te­va was forced to slash a bil­lion dol­lars off its 2017 sales fore­cast af­ter its rev­enue from new prod­ucts fell dras­ti­cal­ly short of ear­li­er pro­jec­tions for 2016.

The tur­moil has caused Wells Far­go’s David Maris to ques­tion whether Te­va — the world’s largest gener­ics play­er which al­so has a pipeline of ex­per­i­men­tal drugs — had the right team in place. For ac­tivist in­vestor Ben­ny Lan­da, though, the re­al ques­tion is whether the com­pa­ny needs to split its op­er­a­tions.

“I hope that this vi­sion in­cludes split­ting Te­va in­to two com­pa­nies,” Lan­da told Globes. “When you look at the suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies in the world, the key word is fo­cus. Com­pa­nies split so that each com­pa­ny af­ter the split will be able to fo­cus on its sec­tor. Te­va should be split in­to a gener­ics com­pa­ny and a sep­a­rate brand­ed drug com­pa­ny. Te­va has re­cent­ly fo­cused on gener­ics to the ex­tent that it lost di­rec­tion, and didn’t re­al­ize that it should in­vest in the in­no­v­a­tive field for the sake of its fu­ture. These are ac­tu­al­ly two sec­tors with al­most no con­nec­tion be­tween them.”

“On my end, in­vestor feed­back track­ing 60-40 in fa­vor of split in­to brand­ed vs gener­ics,” notes Ever­core ISI’s Umer Raf­fat in re­sponse. “ A split wouldn’t cre­ate val­ue out of thin air … but in­vestors point out that it would al­low a brand­ed and gener­ics biz to run sep­a­rate­ly with a laser fo­cus … with nei­ther side tap­ping in­to the re­sources of the oth­er side and with full cost cut ex­e­cu­tion on gener­ics side. Hav­ing said that, in­vestors ac­knowl­edge a split isn’t im­mi­nent, and may like­ly take some time to ex­e­cute (as­sum­ing it hap­pens).”

I asked Levin what he thought about Vigod­man’s ex­it. His re­ply:

The com­pa­ny has a lot of work to do and the Board will have to make de­ci­sions to re­build man­age­ment, so­lid­i­fy the strate­gic di­rec­tion and pro­vide con­fi­dence to the share­hold­er base.  Te­va is an im­por­tant com­pa­ny and it has a ma­jor role to play in de­liv­er­ing med­i­cines to pa­tients and so­ci­eties around the world.

Vigod­man’s sud­den fall al­so came on the heels of some un­usu­al­ly blunt crit­i­cism from Kite Phar­ma CEO Arie Bellde­grun, who just re­cent­ly re­signed his seat on the board at Te­va. Bellde­grun ze­roed in on Te­va’s chron­ic prob­lems with ad­vanc­ing new drugs through the pipeline.

“Every drug com­pa­ny has to change con­stant­ly,” Bellde­grun told Globes, just days af­ter Te­va lost a court fight to pro­tect the patents on its flag­ship prod­uct, Co­pax­one. “Te­va was very com­fort­able with Co­pax­one, but it should have al­ready pre­pared 8-10 years ago for its sub­se­quent life, and no such prop­er prepa­ra­tions were made. You can’t ac­cuse the com­pa­ny; it grew so fast. Now it is in­vest­ing in its fu­ture de­vel­op­ment, but a tem­po­rary hole has been left, and must be sur­vived. Te­va’s fu­ture will come from Prof. Michael Hay­den’s de­part­ment (the in­no­v­a­tive de­part­ment, G.W.). Every­one is sor­ry that (for­mer gener­ics di­vi­sion head) Sig­gi (Sig­ur­dur) Olaf­s­son left, but Sig­gi wasn’t work­ing on Te­va’s fu­ture.”

“The Com­pa­ny is fo­cus­ing on ex­e­cut­ing its strate­gic pri­or­i­ties to trans­form Te­va, with im­me­di­ate fo­cus on re­al­iz­ing the cost syn­er­gies and strate­gic ben­e­fits of the Ac­tavis Gener­ics ac­qui­si­tion,” said Pe­ter­burg in a state­ment. “I look for­ward to work­ing with the en­tire Te­va team to con­duct a thor­ough re­view of the busi­ness to find ad­di­tion­al op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­hance val­ue for share­hold­ers. Te­va has a deep bench of tal­ent­ed lead­ers and to­day’s an­nounce­ment has no im­pact on our abil­i­ty to ex­e­cute go­ing for­ward. With the strength of our gener­ics pipeline, unique R&D ca­pa­bil­i­ties and un­par­al­leled foot­print, cou­pled with our ex­ist­ing as­sets and grow­ing pipeline in spe­cial­ty med­i­cines, I be­lieve in Te­va and the Com­pa­ny’s long-term growth prospects.”

https://twit­ter.com/Arm­strong­Drew/sta­tus/828737610235379713

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gestures to the audience after being recognized by President Trump following the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket at the Kennedy Space Center. (via Getty Images)

Tes­la chief Elon Musk teams up with Covid-19 play­er Cure­Vac to build 'R­NA mi­cro­fac­to­ries'

Elon Musk has joined the global tech crusade now underway to revolutionize vaccine manufacturing — now aimed at delivering billions of doses of a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19. And he’s cutting right to the front.

In a late-night tweet Wednesday, the Tesla chief announced:

Tesla, as a side project, is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others.

That’s not a lot to go on. But the tweet comes a year after Tesla’s German division in Grohmann and CureVac filed a patent on a “bioreactor for RNA in vitro transcription, a method for RNA in vitro transcription, a module for transcribing DNA into RNA and an automated apparatus for RNA manufacturing.” CureVac, in the meantime, has discussed a variety of plans to build microfactories that can speed up the whole process for a global supply chain.

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George Yancopoulos (Regeneron)

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Elias Zerhouni (Photo by Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty Images)

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Rather than interpret them, I thought it would be best to provide snippets straight from the interview.

On the Trump administration response:

It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn’t want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can’t close your borders and say, “OK, we’re going to be safe.” You’re not going to be able to do that in this world. So it’s a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

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The incidents are derailing plans to file for a near-term approval, which had been expected right about now.

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Look­ing for 'ex­ter­nal in­no­va­tion,' Boehringer In­gel­heim re­serves $500M+ for new Shang­hai hub

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Patrick Straub/​EPA-EFE/​Shutterstock)

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Dan Gold, MEI Pharma CEO

De­vel­op­ment part­ners at MEI, Helsinn dump a high-risk PhI­II AML study af­ter con­clud­ing it would fail sur­vival goal

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The drug — an HDAC inhibitor — failed to pass muster during a futility analysis, as researchers concluded that pracinostat combined with azacitidine wasn’t going to outperform the control group in the pivotal.

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Pfizer and their partners at the mRNA specialist BioNTech have published the first glimpse of biomarker data from an early-stage study spotlighting the “robust immunogenicity” triggered by their Covid-19 vaccine, which is one of the leaders in the race to vanquish the global pandemic.

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