Pfizer's CEO is stepping down after 8 years — meet the man who will be replacing him

  • Pfizer CEO Ian Read is stepping down at the end of 2018, ending his eight-year tenure at the head of the pharma giant. 
  • He'll be replaced by Pfizer chief operating officer Albert Bourla in January 2019. 
  • Bourla, 56, has worked at Pfizer for 25 years, and stepped into the role of COO in January after heading up Pfizer's Innovative Health business. 

Pfizer's getting a new CEO. 

The New York-based pharma giant has been overseen over the last eight years by CEO Ian Read. Under Read, the company had 30 drug approvals, spun out an animal health business now worth $44 billion, and bought up cancer drugmaker Medivation.

As of January 1, Read will transition into the role of executive chairman, while current chief operating officer Albert Bourla steps in as CEO. 

Bourla, 56, has spent the past 25 years at Pfizer, joining in 1993 as a technical director in Greece for the company's animal health division and is a doctor of veterinary medicine.

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Eventually, he moved to New York to work at Pfizer headquarters, and held a number of senior roles within the company, both within Animal Health (now spun-out into Zoetis), and elsewhere. 

He assumed the role of COO in January 2018, and before that had led Pfizer Innovative Health business, the business responsible for researching and developing new medications in areas like cancer, neuroscience, and vaccines. His most recent move was to re-organize Pfizer's business into three units, separating out the consumer healthcare business

"The Board has been impressed with Albert’s performance, depth of experience and track record for success, and we are confident that as CEO he will drive innovation and further advancements across the business," Shantanu Narayen the lead independent director on Pfizer's board said in a release Monday. The transition is part of a succession plan that's been in the works for years, Narayen noted.

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