UnitedHealth taps ex-GlaxoSmithKline CEO as new boss of Optum


UnitedHealth taps ex-GlaxoSmithKline CEO as new boss of Optum

iStock / Suriyapong

UnitedHealth Group has appointed its board member and former GlaxoSmithKline head Andrew Witty as the new chief executive officer (CEO) of its pharmacy benefit business Optum, effective July 1.

Witty succeeds Larry Renfro, who will now lead UnitedHealth Group’s enterprise growth efforts and Optum's expanding venture fund.

Witty will immediately relinquish the seat on the UnitedHealth Group board of directors that he has held since August 2017. He joined GlaxoSmithKline in 1985 and served as CEO and a director of GSK from 2008 until 2017.

In his new role, Renfro will help accelerate the company’s innovation capacities and reach as managing partner of Optum Ventures, a series of domestic and international funds, including a new $100 million global fund dedicated to emerging and advanced technology, data analytics and health care services companies. The new global fund complements the domestic Optum Ventures fund announced in November 2017; together they have total investment commitments of up to $600 million.

Renfro joined UnitedHealth Group in 2009 as CEO for the public and seniors market group before becoming CEO of Optum in 2011 and also vice chair in 2014.

David Wichmann, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group, said: “Our growth and diversification across UnitedHealth Group continue to advance at a strong pace, driven in part by well-recognized and growing depth in executive leadership.

"At Optum, Larry Renfro and his team have built a $100 billion, innovative and groundbreaking organization that is truly helping make the health system work better for everyone while helping to transform health care. I am both excited and grateful that Larry will partner with me at the enterprise level, dedicating his talents to strengthening our present day growth agenda and future capability development and strengthening of Optum through early-stage investing at Optum Ventures."

Wichmann added: “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.”

Renfro commented: “[...] I look forward to partnering across the company to drive the innovations and collaborations that will be critical to UnitedHealth Group’s long-term growth as we seek to build a higher-performing and modern health care system that is more highly valued by all.”

UnitedHealth Group, GlaxoSmithKline, Appointment, CEO, Andrew Witty, David Wichmann, Larry Renfro, US