Andrew Witty takes on a new CEO position

pharmafile | March 15, 2018 | News story | Medical Communications Andrew Witty, GSK, Optum, UnitedHealth, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Andrew Witty, who made his name working his way up the ranks at GSK to become its CEO, has revealed his next move after retiring from the position, by becoming CEO at Optum, part of the UnitedHealth Group.

The new position will see him switch from being head of a pharma company to being at the forefront of those that play the role as intermediaries in the US healthcare system, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

PBMs have been at the centre of some fairly serious flak from all angles, as pressure on pricing has increased over the last few years. It will be interesting to see which direction Witty steers Optum, given that he was a proponent of lowering prices of drugs that were sold in developing countries during his tenure at GSK.

By comparison, PBMs have borne the brunt of pharma companies’ blame-game when it comes to higher prices; many, including pharma players, have accused PBMs of encouraging price increases, with PBMs making a profit from drugs that carry the highest rebate whilst carrying the power of including, or excluding, certain medicines from the preferred medication lists held by the PBMs.

How Witty will use his influence as the CEO of one of the three major PBMs in the US will be of interest to those watching, particularly as they are likely to face increasing pressure as the pricing debate rumbles on.

“We are deeply fortunate in Andrew Witty to have the right person to extend Optum’s momentum and lead the business in its next phase of growth. He brings more than three decades of health care system strategic thinking and knowledge from around the globe, a record of fostering innovation and partnerships, seasoned leadership of complex organizations and a commitment to improving care delivery that will now benefit Optum. Critically, he has deep experience with how data and analytics and new technologies can be used to improve patient outcomes, better serve consumers, lower costs and drive value across the system – which is at the heart of Optum’s work to shape health care for the better,” said David S. Wichmann, Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group.

Witty previously held a place on the board of directors at UnitedHealth and will relinquish this position for his new role.

Witty said of his appointment, “As I have now seen up close, Optum’s people, expansive capabilities, client focus and culture make it a unique platform from which to advance health care worldwide, so I am incredibly excited to be part of the team. With a proven strategy, great leadership and top talent, Optum has the unique opportunity to continue improving the health care experience, outcomes and value people receive in the U.S. and globally, and I am honoured to participate in that mission – especially having come to know the leaders of the enterprise through my work as a director. In many ways, even with all its accomplishments, Optum feels as though it is just getting started.”

Ben Hargreaves

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