Miles White retires from Abbott


Abbott Laboratories executive chairman and former CEO Miles White left the board of the North Chicago-based medical products company on Friday and retired “after 38 years in the company”, Abbott announced in a press release .

During his 20 years as Abbott’s chief executive officer, White orchestrated a series of blockbuster transactions, including the spin-off of the company’s hospital equipment and pharmaceutical businesses, and the acquisition of the rights to the world’s best-selling drugs.

The company said that Robert B. Ford, who succeeded White as CEO last year, received the additional chairmanship title effective today.

“I want to thank Miles for everything he has done for Abbott and the people we serve, as well as his guidance and friendship throughout my career,” Ford said in a press release announcing these initiatives. “I am honored to be able to work with the board of directors and my global team to create unprecedented opportunities before us, so Abbott will continue to lead the future reshaping of healthcare.”

White has served as CEO from 1999 until Ford takes over in 2020.

“We thank Miles for his leadership and his outstanding work in transforming Abbott into today’s leading health technology company,” said William A. Osborne, lead director and chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee, in a press release. “Robert continues to strengthen Abbott’s position by advancing our industry-leading pipeline while managing the company’s significant contributions during the pandemic.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Abbott’s wealth has benefited in large part from the numerous diagnostic COVID-19 tests it has developed. In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, Abbott’s sales increased by 8% to $34.6 billion.

According to the company’s filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in 2020, White received a total of $19.8 million. According to the document, Ford received a total of $20.5 million last year, which is 72% higher than his revenue when he became chief operating officer in 2019.

While in charge of Abbott, White improved the company’s growth prospects and added a new product portfolio through mergers and acquisitions. As CEO, his most important move was to split Abbott’s branded pharmaceutical business into an independent public company in 2013. AbbVie, headquartered in North Chicago, had $46 billion in revenue last year and is now the third largest drugmaker in the United States in terms of revenue. This is mainly due to Humira, a multi-purpose acquired by White before the spin-off drug.

Another spin-off during White’s tenure created the independent hospital supplier Hospira. In 2015, Pfizer acquired Hospira in Lake Forest for $17 billion.

Before the pandemic, devices such as the FreeStyle Libre continuous blood glucose monitor and MitraClip (a device used to detect heart valve leaks) and the Alinity diagnostic platform drove the company’s development. Since the Abbvie spin-off, Abbott’s annual revenue has increased by nearly 60%.

This story first appeared in our sister publication Crain’s Chicago Business.



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