By Sy Mukherjee
March 1, 2019

Happy Friday, readers!

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with Teva CEO Kare Schultz at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), where he was ringing the closing bell on February 13. The company had just issued its fourth quarter and full-year 2018 earnings report, which were met with some investor disappointment.

That kind of disappointment has been common for Teva over the past few years. Since March of 2017, the Israel-based generic and branded drug giant has seen its market value slashed in half. A balance sheet loaded with tens of billions of dollars in debt and major competitive headwinds led to wide-scale executive shakeups. Schultz, a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, was brought in as the firm’s new president and CEO in November 2017. And, despite a difficult road to recovery, he touts an aggressive plan to right the ship at Teva.

“When I was approached my initial reaction when I looked at the numbers was, Why on earth would I even look at that? Because it looked pretty bad,” Schultz told Fortune. “But then I got interested because I like companies that do great products, and it turned out that Teva had this amazing portfolio of drugs that they developed on their own, in multiple sclerosis, in Parkinson’s, and other diseases.”

Schultz’s mission has been to take a jackhammer to the company’s organizational structure in an effort to reorient its balance sheet, which included some $35 billion in debt fueled in part by a series of expensive acquisitions (some of which turned out be not-so-lucrative, according to Schultz). Generic competition for its star, branded multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, combined with an increasingly dour landscape in its lead U.S. market for generic drugs, hasn’t helped.

But Schultz remains optimistic. “With a significant restructuring, it’s possible to actually turn the ship around,” he said. The strategy going forward will focus on debt reduction—a somewhat painful endeavor involving the elimination of 25% of Teva’s workforce—that will slash $3 billion from the firm’s spending base; a series of new branded product launches, such as the recently FDA-approved migraine treatment Ajovy; and an effort to stabilize the flagging U.S. generics business.

“I came in with a clarified strategy in my head and backing from the board to actually do it,” said Schultz. Time will tell if that strategy pans out.

Read on for the day’s news, and have a wonderful weekend.

Sy Mukherjee


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