Change at the top as Levin leaves Teva

Teva’s president and chief executive Jeremy Levin is to step down and be replaced on an interim basis by chief financial officer Eyal Desheh amid reports of feuding on the company’s board.

Levin has only been in the job for a little over 18 months, stepping in to replace former Shlomo Yannai from his former role as senior vice president of strategy at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The company said its board of directors has formed a committee to begin the search for a permanent successor, in a volte-face from earlier in the week when the company said rumours of Levin’s resignation were “baseless”.

Local news reports are suggesting that Levin was in conflict with Teva chairman Phillip Frost over the company’s recently-unveiled plan to axe 5,000 jobs and reduce costs by $2bn a year from 2017.

The contention between the two men is said to hinge on a plan to reduce Teva’s headcount in Israel by around 800 positions, which was part of the original restructuring plan but now seems to be under review.

Teva implemented the programme as it anticipates the loss of patent protection on its biggest-selling product – Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) for multiple sclerosis – which is already under pressure from newer drugs such as Novartis’ Gilenya (fingolimod) and Biogen Idec’s Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).

In a news conference held today, Frost said the Levin and the board were aligned on the strategy but had different views on how to carry it out.

Frost said in a prepared statement that the company’s board and management are “fully committed to the implementation of Teva’s strategy, including the development of new compounds, making strategic acquisitions, forming joint ventures and the planned acceleration of the company’s cost reduction programme.”

The company is due to report its third-quarter financial results tomorrow.

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