Jeremy Levin - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today

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Setting the pace for pearls and oysters

Jeremy Levin
President and CEO
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries

After his success launching Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) famed "String of Pearls" partnering strategy, Dr. Jeremy Levin is moving on to a new challenge as he takes over from Shlomo Yanai as president and CEO of Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA). And he will be watched like a hawk by a group of rivals anxious to understand his strategy and imitate his success at dealmaking.

It's easy to see why Teva snapped him up for this role--through Levin's "String of Pearls" strategy, which aimed to make sequential transactions to secure compounds, pipeline or entire companies to fill specific pipeline gaps, BMS made a total of 17 acquisitions, from $2.4 billion for Medarex down to individual drug deals.

Companies across the industry, including Teva, are facing the loss of patent protection for blockbuster drugs. Teva will be hard hit when its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone loses its exclusivity in 2014 and faces generic competition, because this single drug is responsible for a large percentage of Teva's sales. Following Levin's example of selecting just the right drug (or even company) to fill the spaces left by off-patent drugs, they could avoid catastrophic losses and ensure a steady stream of income from newly-licensed launched products that would fund in-house drug development to fill the early-stage pipeline.

According to PharmaTimes World News, Judson Clark at Edward Jones has confidence in Levin's "ability to manage the company through the upcoming wave of branded drugs going generic." Additionally, "we think his experience in business development points to the company's continued desire to pursue smart, timely acquisitions."

As well as creating strategies to license in "pearls," Levin also created an "oyster" strategy at BMS, to license out non-core compounds to companies to develop in emerging markets, on the basis of getting back a percentage of profits on drug approval. As well as being a pragmatic move as these are drugs that wouldn't otherwise have been developed, it also shows a level of social responsibility in improving access to therapeutics--another model that it would benefit other companies across the industry to follow.

Mark Schoenebaum of the International Strategy & Investment Group in New York described Levin as the "number one person in business development," according to Bloomberg. Time will tell what this expertise will do for Teva, and whether his strategies of oysters and pearls will form a necklace shared by the industry as a whole.