Teva Pharmaceuticals changes top executive

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which has a big operation in North Wales and is building a facility in North Philadelphia, announced Monday that it was changing chief executive officers, with Shlomo Yanai departing and Jeremy Levin taking his place.

Levin, who is a medical doctor, leaves Bristol-Myers Squibb to lead the world's largest generic drug manufacturer, which bought Frazer-based Cephalon for $6.8 billion in 2011 in an effort to broaden its business into branded products.

Yanai, 59, who will depart in May, became CEO of Teva in 2007, with most of his previous career spent in the Israel Defense Forces, retiring as a major general. Yanai had been under pressure as Teva's stock price lagged in recent months.

Born in South Africa, Levin becomes the first non-Israeli to lead Teva, which is based in Petach Tikva, Israel. He has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. He worked for Novartis before Bristol-Myers Squibb. He was also CEO of Cadus Pharmaceuticals, a company he took public. The BMS statement released when he was hired in 2007 indicates he got undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from the University of Oxford and his medical degree from the University of Cambridge.

“Dr. Levin is an exceptionally talented business leader with a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges of the pharmaceutical industry,” said Dr. Philip Frost, chairman of the board of directors, in a statement. “He brings to Teva a wealth of experience and the hands-on skills required to foster the growth of a global pharmaceutical business. As a business leader and as a physician, he is passionately committed to bringing effective treatments to patients, worldwide. His combination of vision, creative energy and an effective team-building management style make him an ideal choice to lead Teva into its next growth phase.”

In the company statement, Levin said, “I have known and admired Teva for many years, not just as a global leader in generic drugs, but as an outstanding innovator in pharmaceutical development and new strategic approaches to serve patients worldwide. Demographic trends and economic pressures in developed and emerging markets are intensifying the challenge to provide good medicines at affordable prices. Teva, with its multiple platforms in generics, branded, and OTC drugs, is in an especially good position to meet this challenge. It will be a privilege to work with the talented and dedicated people of Teva to fulfill this mission."