Departing Teva CEO says Cephalon is key to company's future

Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd., announced over the weekend that Shlomo Yanai would retire in May as president and chief executive officer of the company, to be replaced by Bristol-Myers Squibb executive Jeremy Levin.

Levin led BMS' global strategy team, which looked for smaller companies to buy or partner with to diversify BMS' portfolio in recent years. That was needed in part because BMS was losing exclusivity on the blockbuster blood thinning drug Plavix.

Levin was scheduled to have a conference call with Wall Street investment analysts Tuesday morning.

Teva's headquarters are in Israel, but it has a big operation in North Wales and is building a new facility in Northeast Philadelphia.

Diversification was a big part of Teva's 2011 and the biggest slice of that was the $6.8 billion purchase of Frazer-based Cephalon.

In December, Yanai explained why he thought that made sense.

"The acquisition of Cephalon was a major move for the different kind of Teva going forward," Yanai said. "We are more balanced, we have right now a stronger generic presence, and definitely, I believe that we are building a very strong specialty pharma business.

"I believe that we should think on the future of the pharma business in a more holistic and a more broad approach rather than by segment because at the end of the day, Teva has generics and many kind of generics, branded generics, tenders, and there are many other varieties.

"We have the branded specialty pharma business. We added to that this year. We did a significant move to increase the OTC. It’s overall about serving the customer in the way he would like to be served by a global, big, reliable supplier with high quality and has a huge portfolio breadth. I believe that we have the largest portfolio breadth in the industry by all means.

"I think that the potential for growing our branded business, I said before, is by taking the very attractive portfolio with Cephalon, mainly developed and for sale in United States. Yes, there are sales in Europe as well, and [we will] take them into other parts of the world where we have a presence and we can definitely sell this product. Some of this product as we have a little bit more investment in regulatory affairs, or R&D and regulatory affairs, but I think this is minor compared to the business advantage that we can get out of it. We’re committed to develop this business and therefore if there will be a need to increase our R&D, of course in a relative numbers we can do that."