One technique in the world of pharma that has started appearing here on Techdirt is “evergreening” — making small changes to a drug, often about to come off patent, in order to gain a new patent that extends its manufacturer’s control over it. The advantages for pharma companies are evident, but what about the public? What economic impact does evergreening have?
Here are three true statements:
(1) Monopolies are generally illegal.
(2) Like baseball, patents make monopoly laws get a little funky.
(3) Courts really really really like to encourage settlements.
So, when two companies get together, and work out a settlement that makes a whole patent infringement lawsuit go away, and the only objection is that pesky Federal Trade Commission complaining that the settlement is anticompetitive, you can understand why a federal court could meditate on points (2) and (3) and dismiss that FTC complaint.
Yet, in FTC v. Actavis, the Supreme Court yesterday made it harder to settle some patent infringement suits, saying that sometimes a settlement of a lawsuit can be an antitrust problem.
Litigators — or perhaps litigators who are repeat players in a particular field — learn to hate people. Personal injury insurance defense counsel come to believe that all plaintiffs are lying fakers. Personal injury plaintiffs’ lawyers come to believe that all insurance defense counsel are tightfisted jerks who never pay a claim.
Maybe this is natural. If you spend eight hours every day repeatedly doing the same thing over the course of many years, you become what you do. It’s hard to break out of your role.
If you haven’t yet read the long piece in Fortune magazine about the rise and fall of Jeff Kindler as the CEO of Pfizer, you really should. The story may or may not be true — I have no idea — but it would be interesting reading even if it were a work of fiction about corporate political intrigue.
I’ve never met Jeff Kindler. I do know several people who are close friends of his, and I’ve watched his career from a distance as he moved from Williams & Connolly to GE to the general counsel of McDonald’s to the general counsel of Pfizer and then, startlingly, to the CEO of Pfizer. The Fortune piece traces this whole career in detail and then describes why and how Kindler resigned from the CEO spot after serving only very briefly.
Why mention that article here? First, I’m doing you a favor; if you hadn’t previously heard about the piece, now you have a link.
Second, the article said two things about in-house counsel that rang true with me — whether or not these things actually occurred at Pfizer….
This item, from yesterday’s WSJ Law Blog, caught our eye:
As the 11th Vioxx trial got underway yesterday in federal court in New Orleans, Merck disclosed in an SEC filing that it’s giving its general counsel Kenneth Frazier a raise and a promotion, effective Nov. 1. The GC who will forever be associated with the Vioxx litigation and the company’s decision to try and battle one case at a time will now have a base salary of $780,000, a plummy 13% jump up from his former base pay of $689,000.
Last year, with cash, bonus and stock, Frazier reportedly took home $1.64 million. In other big pharma GC salaries, Pfizer general counsel Jeff Kindler, promoted to CEO earlier this year, was ranked 18th and earned $1.9 million last year. Robert Armitage, in-house counsel at Eli Lilly ranked 51st and earned $1.17 million.
Serving as a general counsel to Big Pharma: Nice work if you can get it.
This brings us to our next theme for Skaddenfreude, ATL’s ongoing survey of salaries within the legal profession. We’d like to turn our attention to the incomes of in-house lawyers.
If you’re employed as in-house counsel for some corporation, we’d like to learn how much you earn. We will then share it with our readers, as a public service to them — but keeping you and your employer anonymous, as always. We’re especially interested in lawyers below the general counsel level — e.g., associate, assistant, or deputy general counsels — whose salaries are not already matters of public record.
So please, in-house lawyers, help us out. Send us your salary information, by email (subject line: “Skaddenfreude”). Examples of “anonymized” entries, and guidelines for submitting your salary info to ATL, appear here. Thanks!
Drinks on Mr. Frazier? [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Skaddenfreude: Totally Gauche Ogling of Other Lawyers’ Incomes
Prior editions of Skaddenfreude (scroll down)