People in the News: Henry Ford's CEO Retiring, Novartis's New Digital Boss, Lawyer Sues FDA

Ryan Black

Henry Ford Hospital's CEO, who started as an intern 42 years ago, announced his retirement. Jonathan Emord continues to sue FDA over electroconvulsive therapy.

Novartis Appoints Chief Digital Officer

Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis named Bertrand Bodson to a new role as its Chief Digital Officer, reporting directly to the company’s CEO, Joseph Jimenez.

"This is not just about digital helping the business. Bertrand will help us transform our business model using digital technologies," Jimenez said. A press release indicated that Bodson is expected to lead the company’s efforts to better use data for drug discovery and business automation.

Bodson comes to the role with extensive experience across various industries, but a press release from the company doesn’t indicate any of it in the medical or pharmaceutical fields. He joins Novartis from British retailer Argos; previously, he worked for EMI Music and Amazon, and co-founded Bragster.com, a social media site that was later purchased by Guinness World Records and more or less folded.

“I am very excited to be joining Novartis to play a part in its efforts to reimagine medicine by leveraging digital on behalf of millions of patients and practitioners,” Bodson said of his hiring.

John Popovich, MD, announced his retirement this week after 42 years with the Henry Ford Hospital System.

Popovich served a host of roles with Henry Ford: at the time of his announcement, he was titled President and CEO of Henry Ford Hospital as well as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Henry Ford Health System. He began as an intern in 1975 and worked his way through a fellowship and a senior staff physician role to eventually become Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit, then Division Head, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, then Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

After being named Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs in 2008, Popovich was anointed President and CEO in 2010.

"His legacy includes building, leading and nurturing a team that is well-positioned to continue the hospital's reputation as an academic medical center highly regarded for its research, education and clinical excellence," said Wright Lassiter III, President and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, in a press release.

Attorney Continues War with FDA over Electroconvulsive Therapy Devices

In a ranging press release that namechecks One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jonathan Emord’s law firm announced they had filed a supplement to a Citizen Petition against the FDA that they had previously filed on behalf of 5 people who claim they suffered injury from electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) devices.

The FDA’s 2016 proposed reclassification of ECT devices, from class III (highest risk) to class II for the treatment of depression, is the firm’s target. “ECT is barbaric and should be removed from the market," Emord said.

The American Psychiatric Association, for its part, has been vying for the reclassification of the heavily-stigmatized therapy, citing a litany of randomized clinical trials showing its effectiveness if correctly administered.

Emord and his firm have a long history of fighting politicized battles against the FDA, typically attempting to sue the agency on constitutional grounds as they relate to benefit claims on health supplement labels.

“The risks of greatest concern to clinicians and patients remain cognitive and memory impairment,” the FDA stated at the time of the reclassification decision last year, according to a Washington Post article from the time.