Abbott admits to errors in pharma chief's college credentials

Richard Gonzalez is getting a dose of scrutiny afforded only to the highest ranking execs. As Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) prepares for the spinoff of its pharma business with Gonzalez named as CEO of the operation, called AbbVie, the company has had to acknowledge that it had incorrectly stated in the executive's bio that he had completed degrees in biochemistry. In fact, Gonzalez never finished college.

Crain's Chicago Business dug into old regulatory filings between 2002 and 2007 and found Abbott had reported that the veteran executive had a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston and a master's degree from the University of Miami. The business publication harps on the fact that major media outlets have that info on their websites as well, even though Abbott has since amended Gonzalez's bio with language that places him at university labs without misstating that he picked up degrees.

Credential crises have cost powerful executives. As Reuters noted, Yahoo's former CEO departed in May after a kerfuffle over a phony computer science degree in his bio. Abbott appears to be taking the heat for the old mistakes in Gonzalez's list of accomplishments, calling the incorrect information "an administrative error," the news wire reported.   

The scrutiny of Gonzalez's educational record comes amid a transformation at Abbott that has generated plenty of its own publicity, with the company expected to spin off its $18 billion pharma unit (which includes the mega-blockbuster Humira) by the end of this year with Gonzalez in charge, while Abbott CEO Miles White stays on to lead the remaining diagnostics, devices and other healthcare businesses at the company.

- here's the Crain's article
- and the Reuters report

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