Teva poaches Vertex exec as new head of R&D

Teva chief executive Kare Schultz has lined up the appointment he wants to revitalise the company’s R&D operations, naming Vertex Pharma’s Eric Hughes to the role of executive vice president of R&D and chief medical officer.

Eric A Hughes

Hughes – currently Vertex’s head of clinical development and translational medicine – will make the move to his new employer on 1 August, less than a year after taking on the role.

Prior to Vertex, he spent five years at Novartis in various positions, ending up as global head of clinical development and analytics, and previously worked at Merck & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and as an infectious disease specialist at Philadelphia VA Medical Centre.

At Teva, he replaces Hafrun Fridriksdottir, a 25-year Teva veteran who was named R&D chief almost immediately after Kare Schultz took over the reins of Teva in 2017 with the task of turning around the fortunes of the ailing generics giant.

At the time, Teva was labouring under the weight of its $40 billion takeover of Allergan’s generics unit and dwindling sales of cash-cow product Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) for multiple sclerosis due to generic competition, and almost $34 billion in debt.

Schultz promptly launched a big restructuring drive that delivered $3 billion in savings, but also a dramatic reduction in headcount and the shutdown of dozens of offices, labs and manufacturing sites.

Hughes will take charge of an R&D unit spending around $1 billion on R&D across Teva’s generics, biosimilars and speciality medicines categories – two-thirds spent in the US – at 26 R&D sites worldwide, employing around 3,500 scientists. He will be based out of Teva’s US headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey.

“Day in and day out, nearly 200 million people worldwide rely on Teva medicines and products,” he said in a LinkedIn post.

“As such, it is with great responsibility that I will take on the inspiring task to lead the company’s strong and unique R&D organisation, knowing that together with our scientists, researchers and staff we have a tremendous opportunity to bring meaningful specialty, biologics and generics medicines to patients worldwide.”

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