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Viatris scouts for new board chair as longtime leader Robert Coury transitions to advisory role

Viatris Chairman Robert Coury has called the shots at Mylan and its successor Viatris for many years, but now he’s getting ready to hang it up. 

Later this year, Coury will transition from his current role of executive chairman to become Viatris’ chairman emeritus and senior strategic adviser, the company said in a release. Viatris expects the transition to occur at its annual shareholder meeting in mid-December. Before then, Viatris is seeking to identify a new board chair.

After the transition, Viatris says it plans to keep Coury around in a “non-employee, strategic advisor capacity” because of his “longstanding” and “critical connection” to the company’s daily operations and strategic initiatives. He’ll serve in the advisory role until the end of 2025.

Coury has had a long tenure at the two companies. His stint at Mylan started way back in 1995 as a strategic adviser. Then, he joined the company’s board in February 2002 and served as Mylan’s CEO from September 2002 to January 2012. 

He became Mylan’s chairman in June 2016 and its executive chairman in April 2020. 

But he’s faced criticism over compensation at times. In 2016, when Mylan was wrapped up in controversies related to the epinephrine injection EpiPen, he nabbed a whopping $97 million pay package, the largest in the industry that year. That prompted some institutional investors to rally against the company’s compensation decisions. Some investors even called for Coury’s exit from the company in 2017.

For its part, Viatris credits Coury as the “key architect” behind its “unique and powerful global platform.” In November 2020, Mylan completed its merger with Pfizer’s former Upjohn unit to form Viatris. 

After its 2020 formation, Viatris is now nearing completion of “Phase 1” of its strategic plan, a period when it prioritized the integration of the two companies and stability of operations.

Viatris plans to “return to growth” in the next phase, which is expected to run from 2024 to 2028. Further, the company recently bought two eye care companies, Oyster Point Pharma and Famy Life Sciences, and plans to become an industry leader in ophthalmology.

This isn’t the only leadership change at Viatris this year. In February, the company tapped Celgene veteran Scott Smith as its new CEO. He replaced Michael Goettler, who was previously the president of Upjohn. 

“With Viatris’ powerful foundation now securely in place, with Scott A. Smith at the helm as our new CEO, and with the clear and defined path that we established for growth going forward, I have never been more confident in the future of our company, our employees and all of our stakeholders than I am today,” Coury said in a statement.