Cardinal Health gets new leadership amidst legal action mounting against the company.

Facing rising pressure from regulators and investors over the opioid crisis,
Cardinal Health announced changes in executive leadership this morning, with CEO George Barrett leaving the pharmaceutical and medical products distributor after this week’s annual meeting of shareholders.

Barrett will be succeeded by CFO Mike Kaufmann, who will serve as chief
executive officer and join the Cardinal board of directors in January. Cardinal’s lead independent director, Gregory Kenny, will become non-executive chairman at the end of the annual meeting, according to a news release.
In the release, Barrett said, “As I approach a decade with Cardinal Health, it feels very natural to hand the baton to Mike, who has been a close and trusted partner to me and an integral part of driving our strategy.”

The company’s statement did not address mounting legal action from states and counties across the country demanding accountability from the healthcare company and other drug distributors for the nationwide opioid crisis. Kenny is quoted in the release as saying the new governance structure is based on “a wide range of factors, including the current practices of other organizations, as well as the views of our shareholders.”

The Columbus Dispatch reported this morning that a coalition of investors led by the Teamsters was calling for Cardinal to take some accountability for the opioid crisis and planned to call for changes at Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting.

Barrett joined Cardinal in 2008 as vice chairman and became chairman and CEO in 2009. He has been involved in community improvement initiatives through the Columbus Partnership and co-chaired the Columbus Education Commission under Mayor Mike Coleman.