Abbott Laboratories Executive Chairman and former CEO Miles White left the North Chicago-based medical products company's board Friday, retiring "after a remarkable 38-year career with the company," Abbott announced in a news release.
In two decades as Abbott's CEO, White orchestrated a series of blockbuster transactions, including spinoffs of the company's hospital equipment and pharmaceutical businesses and the acquisition of rights to the world's top-selling drug.
Robert B. Ford, who succeeded White as CEO last year, takes on the additional title of chairman effective today, the company said.
"I want to thank Miles for all he's done for Abbott and the people we serve, as well as his mentorship and friendship throughout my career," Ford said in the press release announcing the moves. "It's my honor to work alongside the Board and my global team to deliver on the unprecedented opportunities in front of us, so Abbott continues to lead in the reshaping of the future of health care."
White was CEO from 1999 until Ford took over in 2020.
"We're grateful for Miles' leadership and his exceptional work to transform Abbott into the leading health technology company that it is today," William A. Osborn, lead director and chair of the Nominations and Governance committee, said in the release. "Robert has continued 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 fortunes have been buoyed largely by the numerous diagnostic COVID-19 tests it has developed. During 2020, the first year of the pandemic, Abbott's sales increased 8% to $34.6 billion.
In 2020, White received a total of $19.8 million, according to a company filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. And Ford received a total of $20.5 million last year—72% more than he made in 2019 when he served as chief operating officer, the filing said.
During his tenure at the helm of Abbott, White boosted the company's growth prospects and added new product portfolios through mergers and acquisitions. His most significant move as CEO was the 2013 spinoff of Abbott's branded pharmaceutical business as a separate publicly traded company. With $46 billion in revenue last year, North Chicago-based AbbVie now ranks as the third-largest U.S. drugmaker by revenue, thanks largely to Humira, a multipurpose remedy acquired under White before the spinoff.
Another spinoff during White's tenure created the independent hospital supplier Hospira. Lake Forest-based Hospira was acquired by Pfizer in 2015 for $17 billion.
Download Modern Healthcare’s app to stay informed when industry news breaks.
Before the pandemic, devices like the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor and the MitraClip, a device for leaky heart valves, along with the Alinity diagnostics platform, drove the company's growth. Abbott's annual revenues are up nearly 60% since the Abbvie spinoff.
This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crain's Chicago Business.