Corporate Crime Reporter 19, May 1, 2007
For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has marinated the medical profession in millions of dollars of free samples, lunches, trips, and fees. The goal – influence, power, profits.
Now, the industry has another target – the legal profession.
Last week, industry leaders Schering-Plough Corporation, sanofi-aventis, Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers Squibb and the pharma law firm Gibbons PC – announced that they will donate a total of $9.1 million to establish the Center for Health & Pharmaceutical Law at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, New Jersey.
“This is what they have been doing with doctors for the last five decades – shaping young doctors' minds,” said Peter Rost, a former vice president at Pfizer and author of The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman (Soft Skull Press, 2006). “Now they want to shape the minds of young lawyers.”
“I would imagine that the drug industry feels that the legal environment has been challenging – with prosecutions and False Claims Act cases proliferating,” Rost said. “I’m sure they hope that they can have an impact on things. They are not doing this to be nice. They are doing it because it is in their interest. They are making friends, trying to start being proactive about what happens – get involved from the beginning.”
A spokesperson for Seton Hall Law School, Kathleen Eagan, said she could not provide anyone for an interview about the project – although last week, the Law School did distribute a press release and held a press conference about the donations.
Bristol Myers Squibb’s contribution – $5 million – grew out of a June 2005 deferred prosecution agreement cut with the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey – Christopher Christie – a Seton Hall Law School graduate.
Christie has been harshly criticized for directing the funds to his alma mater.
But he says that the idea came from the lawyer representing Bristol Myers Squibb and that his office only required that a business ethics chair be endowed at a New Jersey law school.
Lo and behold, Rutgers University School of Law already had a business ethics chair – endowed by Prudential.
Christie says that Bristol Myers was required to endow the chair in an effort to “change the corporate culture.”
“The professor occupying that endowed chair is required to conduct an annual ethics seminar for Bristol-Myers management and other interested industry members,” Christie said last year.