Former Teva CEO Eli Hurvitz Dies at 79

Eli Hurvitz led top pharmaceutical company to success for 35 years, serving as CEO from 1976 to 2002, when he became chairman of its board of directors, until he retired in 2010.

Eli Hurvitz, a key industry figure in Israel, and the man who made Teva, one of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies, into what it is today, passed away on Monday at the age of 79.

Hurvitzv had been hospitalized in the Shiba Hospital ICU during the past week.

teva - Sasson Tiram - August 5 2010
Sasson Tiram

Hurvitz led Teva to success for 35 years, serving as the company’s CEO from 1976 to April 2002, when he left his position as CEO and became chairman of its board of directors. In 2010, he retired after having worked for 57 years.

Hurvitz began his career in 1953, when after completing his bachelor’s degree in economics, he took employment as a laboratory dishwasher in Assia. He made his way up the corporate ladder, until eventually becoming the company’s CEO. In 1976, he orchestrated a three way merger between three Israeli drug manufactures, Assia, Zuri, and Teva, and was given the helm of the new company that resulted from the merger, Teva.

Hurvitz led Teva to its current status as Israel’s biggest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and one of the world’s leading generic drug companies. He received the Israel Prize in April 2002, for his contribution to Israeli society.

In 1996, Teva hit a major milestone in its growth when the FDA approved the use of its drug Copaxone, developed by a team of researchers at the Weitzman Institute in Rehovot, for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

In an interview after he retired, Hurvitz said: “Teva knew how to plan ahead, to build a team of executives and employees that identified with the company goals and culture. The company aspired, and still aspires to be a global Israeli company, and I believe it will forever stride to meet that goal.”

While serving as captain of industry, Hurvitz continued to serve in the IDF reserves in Israel’s wars, including in the First Lebanese War, and was promoted to brigade commander by the end of his service. He had also been involved in other civic activities. He served as a member of the Israeli Export Institute board from 1974-1977, as president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel from 1981-1986, as chairman of the board of Bank Leumi from 1986-1987, and as chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority 1989-1992.

In February 2010, he went on vacation and later retired from Teva, after he was diagnosed with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Dalia, former-head of history education at Israel’s Educational Television, and three children.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: אלי הורביץ, מנכ"ל ויו"ר טבע לשעבר, מת בגיל 79