Stories and Viewpoints

John Linnell: Celebrating A Year of Impact

Viatris celebrates its one-year anniversary with Impact Week, set aside to honor, listen and learn from patients.

By Jennifer C. Yates 

Note: John Linnell has received compensation from Viatris for this and other speaking engagements. 


John Linnell was just 49 in 2005 when he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. At first, the active marketing professional said he didn’t alter his busy lifestyle much. But after a trip where he breathlessly missed a connecting flight and was stuck at an airport for five hours, Linnell realized he needed help. 

Linnell, of Viroqua, Wisconsin, chose to get involved – not only as an empowered patient caring for himself but also as an advocate for others through the COPD Foundation. His goal is to lead by example, educate and create awareness about COPD, which is a progressive disease that gets worse over time.  


"COPD is not the end. COPD is a different chapter. But it’s my story and I have the choice. It’s my life, it’s my book, I’m writing it,” Linnell said. 

Linnell shared his journey with COPD with Viatris employees around the world to commemorate the company’s first anniversary during Impact Week, a time set aside to honor, listen and learn from patients as well as celebrate a year of working towards creating healthier and more sustainable communities. 

“I'm really very optimistic now about the future for COPD because there is more awareness. People really care. Things are happening. Things are developing, and together, we're going to make a difference."John Linnell, who lives with COPD

“As a new company, we get to create our history. I’m excited that we are setting aside this time, together, to honor patients and celebrate the impact we’re making in people’s lives,” Viatris CEO Michael Goettler said.  
For many of us, improving everyone’s ability to gain access to sustainable and quality medicine is our relentless pursuit and it’s deeply personal.  Whether it’s our own story or that of our mom or dad, our children, or our friends and neighbors, we are all patients. And good health matters to all of us, everywhere.


“Impact Week is about sharing, listening and reflecting on our first year and then taking all that we’ve learned to drive our continued commitment to advance access around the world,” said Rajiv Malik, Viatris president. “The week will include everything from global events to regional and local celebrations.” 


Together, We’re Making a Difference 

For Linnell, living with COPD means good days and bad days. COPD is an umbrella term that encompasses primarily emphysema and bronchitis,1 and he said awareness is vital to managing his illness. He works closely with his physician on a personal action plan to ensure he’s taking medications as prescribed. And he’s passionate about early diagnosis: the sooner you know, the sooner you can take care of yourself, he said.   


“I'm really very optimistic now about the future for COPD because there is more awareness. People really care,” Linnell said. “Things are happening. Things are developing, and together, we're going to make a difference.” 

Viatris’ Impact Week begins with Global Town Hall meetings, which kick off a week that includes a ringing of the Nasdaq bell, an important discussion on pathways to care and a special live online discussion. The week culminates with celebrations in appreciation of our worldwide workforce of approximately 38,000 and a Walk Around the World that will virtually unite colleagues. 

“In just one year, we have built a company that empowers visionary thinking, determination and action through our proven commercia capabilities. And we’ve done it all during a global pandemic,” Goettler said. “I could not be prouder of what we’ve done together and the impact we’ve had.” 

VideoJohn Linnell’s COPD JourneyJohn Linnell shares his COPD journey with Viatris.


1 2021. What is COPD? | COPD Foundation. Accessed November 11, 2021.






Michael Goettler is the former CEO of Viatris.


You may also like
  • Share this: