WebMD has turned to a former Pfizer executive to help it turn around what has been a terrible year for the health care information company.
The website operator named Cavan Redmond, who had been group president of animal health, consumer health care and corporate strategy at Pfizer Inc., as CEO Friday.
WebMD's sites include WebMD Health, MedicineNet, RxList and theheart.org. It has been under pressure recently as drug companies cut back on advertising and it faces more competition from social networking sites and ad networks. The company said this month that its public portal sponsorship revenue dropped 20 percent to $87.8 million during the first quarter.
WebMD lost $7.8 million during the first three quarter and it released a weak outlook for the current quarter, saying that revenue will be reduced between 4 percent and 6 percent. Shares are trading at half last year's price, and dipped another 22 cents, or 1 percent, to $22.81 in afternoon trading Friday.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Redmond said pharmaceutical companies are remaking their marketing operations and will look for new ways to sell their products in the coming years. He said digital media will be an important part of their plans, and WebMD will have a lot to offer because it is trusted by large numbers of both physicians and consumers.
WebMD Chairman Martin Wygod was optimistic about the new CEO.
"He has a successful track record in identifying and leveraging new revenue opportunities, driving efficiency and establishing sustainable growth platforms," said Chairman Martin Wygod. "Along with our experienced management team, I have great confidence that Cavan will take WebMD to the next level."
Redmond, 51, succeeds Wayne Gattinella, who resigned in January. One of his first tasks will be to address restive shareholders, including Carl Icahn, who revealed a nearly 8 percent stake in the company last fall. He has boosted that stake to 13 percent, calling the company "undervalued." Icahn is a billionaire investor with a history of investing in companies and trying to shake them up.
Chief Financial Officer Anthony Vuolo, who had served as interim CEO, will return full time to his role as CFO.
WebMD Health Corp. is based in New York.