JPM23: After hiatus, Teva looks to amp up research collaborations, CEO says

As Teva’s new CEO Richard Francis settles into his role, he’s already sharing thoughts on strategic priorities just days into the job.

Faced with a question on dealmaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Francis said he wants to push Teva toward more research collaborations. 

The CEO, a veteran of Biogen and Novartis’ Sandoz, said there’s been an “explosion of science” in biopharma over the last five years. 

“It's not contained in Big Pharma anymore,” he added. “Research is moving fast everywhere, and I think we've seen that. And so I think that creates opportunities for companies to partner with Teva because of our global capability.” 


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Historically, Teva has been good at finding promising drug candidates and entering long-term research partnerships, Francis said. The company has been “constrained” lately, and the new CEO said he wants to emphasize R&D collaborations “a bit more over the next couple of years.” 

Still, noting Teva’s “capital constraints,” Francis said that in-licensing and “relatively small, targeted deals” should take priority. Teva is carrying around $19 billion in debt, down from $34 billion in 2017. 

Francis attended JPM just days into his tenure as Teva’s CEO. Back in November, the Israeli drugmaker named the industry vet its next CEO, replacing Kåre Schultz, who retired. Francis started at Teva on Jan. 1.


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As the new CEO noted at JPM, he brings experience from both the branded, innovative side of the biopharma business from his time at Biogen and from the generics space as Sandoz’s former head. Teva was his “No. 1 competitor” at both companies, Francis said. During his time at Biogen, the Massachusetts-based company was battling against Teva’s multiple sclerosis offering Copaxone.  

“I think I know the company very well,” he said.

As for Francis’ immediate priorities, he outlined a plan to meet with the management team and “come back to the market midyear with a clear idea of the future of Teva, where it's heading and the specifics of how to get there.”