Former Sanofi boss Christopher Viehbacher will become the new CEO of Biogen, the company said Thursday.
The move comes as the Cambridge, Massachusetts firm is struggling after a series of setbacks for Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm and intense competition for its top-selling multiple sclerosis drugs.
Viehbacher is an industry veteran, most notably serving as Sanofi’s CEO from 2008 to 2014. In a high-profile move eight years ago, Sanofi’s board removed Viehbacher from his post.
Viehbacher will replace Michel Vounatsos, who announced his departure in May. He will step into his role on Nov. 14, Biogen said.
Viehbacher founded private equity firm Gurnet Point Capital after being ousted from French giant Sanofi.
Vounatsos, who became Biogen CEO in 2017, announced his departure after the U.S. government’s Medicare program restricted coverage of Aduhelm to patients in clinical trials. Vounatsos plans to stick around at the biotech firm for a limited period of time to smooth the transition.
“The selection of a new CEO has been front-of-mind for Biogen investors since Mr. Vounatsos’ announced departure,” said analyst Laura Chico.
During his six-year tenure as Sanofi CEO, Viehbacher was instrumental in the company’s $20 billion deal for Genzyme in 2011.
His appointment ends a months-long search for a successor. The company’s shares rose 2.4% to $289.01 in premarket trading.