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Ex-GSK CEO Witty named head of pharmacy benefit firm Optum

Current Optum CEO Larry Renfro will move to Optum Ventures as MD

Sir Andrew Witty

Former GlaxoSmithKline chief executive Andrew Witty has been named as the new head of UnitedHealth’s pharmacy benefit manager Optum.

Witty - under whose leadership GSK topped the charts for access to medicines for several years in a row and who repeatedly told the industry that a new pricing approach was needed - will now be on the other side of the fence at the helm of Optum from July 1. He’s been on the board of UnitedHealth since August last year but will now step down from that role.

The group operates PBM OptumRx - which manages the pharmacy portion of UnitedHealth’s insurance plans - as well as units providing data analytics services, employs around 140,000 staffers and made $91bn in revenues last year out of UnitedHealth’s total turnover of $201bn.

The PBM serves around 300 health plans - estimated to be the third-largest in the US after Express Scripts and CVS Health - and like its peers has enormous leverage on biopharma companies when it comes to trading off price for access to formularies.

UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann said in a statement that Witty "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."

“We are deeply fortunate … to have the right person to extend Optum’s momentum and lead the business in its next phase of growth,” he added.

Witty said that Optum “has the unique opportunity to continue improving the healthcare experience, outcomes and value people receive in the US and globally”, adding that “in many ways, even with all its accomplishments, Optum feels as though it is just getting started”.

Witty will succeed current Optum CEO Larry Renfro, who will take over leadership of the health insurer's venture capital arm Optum Ventures as managing director. UnitedHealth said that Optum Ventures will now include a new $100m global fund that’s dedicated to emerging technology, data analytics and healthcare services.

He joins Optum shortly after health insurer Cigna - which currently uses OptumRx as its PBM - unveiled a $52bn bid last week to buy Express Scripts.

Article by
Phil Taylor

14th March 2018

From: Healthcare

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