Weather Updates

CEO of Abbott’s spinoff didn’t receive college degrees claimed in filings

Updated: October 29, 2012 6:57AM

Abbott Laboratories is shrugging off the fact that the company overstated the education level of the man chosen to helm its pharmaceutical spinoff, which is expected to make $18 billion in sales next year.
Longtime Abbott exec Richard Gonzalez didn’t receive either a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Houston or a master’s in biochemistry from the University of Miami — contrary to biographical information filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2007 and several years prior while he was a director at the company.
“There was an administrative error many years ago when the bio was written,” said Abbott spokesman Melissa Brotz. “When we became aware of it a while back we corrected it promptly — I don’t have an exact date.
“There’s absolutely no issues with his educational background or ability to lead. He’s had a distinguished career reaching the highest levels in the company with a proven track record,” said Brotz. Gonzalez will take the reigns of the pharmaceutical spinoff AbbVie when the nascent company completes its separation Jan. 1.
AbbVie (pronounced Abb-vee) will be the new research-based pharmaceutical firm expected to be launched by Abbott Laboratories by the end of the year.
In October 2011, North Chicago-based Abbott said it would separate into two publicly traded firms — one in diversified medical products, the other in research-based pharmaceuticals.
AbbVie will include Abbott’s current portfolio of proprietary pharmaceuticals and biologics. The name is derived from a combination of Abbott and “vie,” which references the Latin root “vi” meaning life.
The AbbVie logo and graphic identity will be unveiled when the new company is launched.
The diversified medical products company, which will retain the Abbott name, will consist of Abbott’s existing products portfolio, including its branded generic pharmaceutical, devices, diagnostics and nutritional businesses.
AbbVie has nearly $18 billion in annual revenue and will have a portfolio of market-leading brands, including Humira, Lupron, Synagis, Kaletra, Creon and Synthroid.
Gonzalez joined Abbott in 1977 and retired briefly in 2007 as the company’s No. 2 man before returning in 2009 to head its investment arm and is currently executive vice president of the pharmaceutical products group.
A spokesman for the University of Houston confirmed Gonzalez took classes at the school in 1972 and 1973, but did not earn a degree. School administrators from the University of Miami were not immediately available Thursday.
Crain’s Chicago Business first broke the story.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.