AbbVie faucets Robert Michael as CEO, succeeding Richard Gonzalez

Test tubes are seen in front of a displayed AbbVie logo in this illustration taken on May 21, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

AbbVie on Tuesday said longtime executive Robert Michael will become the company’s new CEO, replacing Richard Gonzalez. 

Michael, who is AbbVie’s president and chief operating officer, will become the company’s second-ever CEO on July 1. Gonzalez, who has led the company since it spun out from Abbott Laboratories in 2013, will retire and become AbbVie’s executive chairman. 

The announcement marks an end to Gonzalez’s successful stint as the top executive of AbbVie, which transformed into one of the largest companies in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in less than a decade.

It also comes as AbbVie grapples with one of the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest losses of exclusivity, as its blockbuster autoimmune drug Humira faces fresh biosimilar competition. But the company is pinning its hopes on a pair of newer immunology drugs, Skyrizi and Rinvoq, to offset the losses from Humira. 

AbbVie expects those two drugs to post $16 billion in sales this year and $27 billion by 2027, executives said during an earnings call earlier this month. 

“The board and I have been planning for a seamless CEO succession for some time. Now is the opportune time to hand the CEO role over to Rob,” Gonzalez said in a release. “The business is performing very well and is in a strong position for the long term. Our pipeline contains multiple promising candidates to sustain our future strong growth.”

Michael has spent more than a decade climbing the C-suite ranks at AbbVie, playing a key role in executing recent deals such as the company’s acquisition of neuroscience drugmaker Cerevel Therapeutics and cancer drug developer ImmunoGen. 

He previously spent nearly 20 years at Abbott Laboratories, overseeing business divisions such as molecular diagnostics and nutrition supply chain.

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