Israel makov has adventure in his blood. A fourth-generation Israeli, he speaks proudly of his great grandmother, who bought and sold wool in Russia until the late 1890s when, at the age of 50, she moved to Palestine, bought a piece of land, and helped found a town in the wilderness. It was the kind of career move that Makov, CEO of Teva Pharmaceuticals, admires and emulates. As a boy, he rode a donkey to work in his father's orchards on the land his great grandmother bought. He attended an agricultural boarding school, started his career in citrus exports and—decades before Teva recruited him—managed Abic, the second-largest pharma company in Israel, and founded Interpharm, the country's first biotech company.
"I was a pioneer in almost everything that I did," says Makov, 66, who also had a brief and successful career in women's fashion. "I moved from one industry to another, which is a huge personal challenge."
Not that he was never fearful. Makov served as a paratrooper in the Six-Day War in 1967. When he later boarded his first commercial flight (to London to work as an economist with Israel's Citrus Marketing Board), he was alarmed to discover, he says tongue-in-cheek, that the airline expected him to fly without a parachute.
A sunny and cheerful man, Makov arrived alone for an interview with Pharm Exec, without the public-relations entourage that typically accompanies pharma CEOs, at the Sherry Netherland Hotel in New York. He seemed amused at the notion that his company, the largest generic-drug manufacturer the world has ever known, might frighten the branded industry. "I was introduced to the president of a very large pharmaceutical company," he recounts in his colorful, heavily-accented English. "When they said, 'This is Mr. Makov,' he said, 'Ooh, you are my enemy!' It happened in front of many people and was very embarrassing. So I told him, 'Mr. So-and-so, I really don't understand what you're telling me. I wake every morning and I pray for the welfare of your company.'"
In fact, Teva is growing enormously fast on drugs that made Big Pharma rich. Pravachol (pravastatin), Zoloft (sertraline), and Zocor (simvastatin) are among the compounds heading up the 2006 product list that boosted second-quarter sales by 77 percent over the previous year to more than $2 billion. In North America alone, Teva's sales nearly doubled to $1.2 billion in the quarter. And with 148 abbreviated new drug applications (ANDA) awaiting final FDA approval as of August 1, 2006, Teva is waiting to take over (and yes, slash prices on) $84 billion worth of branded drugs. Third-quarter sales will easily outstrip those of the previous quarter, says Edward Thwaite, an analyst focused on the generic industry.
Teva is a master of efficient manufacturing—it plans to produce 36 billion tablets in 2006. Jacob Winter , head of global generic resources