The future of Biogen: Pragmatism, ‘a few moonshots,’ and no Twinkies

Two years after a big scientific swing nearly pushed Biogen to the brink, CEO Christopher Viehbacher is embarking on a corporate rethink, one that balances Biogen’s characteristic risky bets with a frank commitment to pragmatism.

Speaking at the STAT Summit in Boston on Thursday, Viehbacher said his Biogen predecessors fell off track through a few unsound investments and an all-or-nothing bet on Aduhelm, the Alzheimer’s disease treatment that became a pharmaceutical cautionary tale. Viehbacher, one year into his tenure at the storied company, said Biogen’s future will rely on taking a more disciplined approach to risk.


“There’s a huge amount of pride inside the company that we go after problems other people don’t,” Viehbacher said, “but at the end of the day you also have to get medicines through the pipeline to benefit patients, and that’s why we’re expanding the aperture of what we’re doing in R&D.”

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