Novartis’s Top Lawyer will be Out Amid Furor Over Payments to Michael Cohen
Novartis’s top lawyer will be to retire coming from the company over payments made by the pharmaceutical giant to President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen, the Swiss drug maker said on Wednesday.
In a statement, Novartis said in which Felix R. Ehrat, the group general counsel, would likely be replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, who will be currently the company’s top ethics officer, at the beginning of June. Mr. Ehrat was stepping down “within the context of discussions surrounding Novartis’s former agreement with Essential Consultants, owned by Michael Cohen,” the pharmaceutical company said.
“Although the contract was legally in order, the item was an error,” Mr. Ehrat said. “As a cosignatory with our former C.E.O., I take personal responsibility to bring the public debate on This particular matter to an end.”
Mr. Ehrat, a practicing lawyer in Switzerland, has been the group general counsel at Novartis since 2011.
Novartis has said in which its former chief executive, Joe Jimenez, entered into the agreement with Mr. Cohen as part of an effort to gain insight into the approach the brand new administration would likely take on topics of interest to Novartis, particularly health care. The company said in which, after an initial meeting with Mr. Cohen last March, the item concluded in which he did not hold the expertise they had hoped for in addition to decided not to go forward with the arrangement. although the item said the item learned the contract could only be canceled for cause in addition to allowed the item to expire in February.
Since revelations about the relationship last Tuesday, Novartis has sought to distance its brand new chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, coming from the controversy, saying in which the decision to hire Mr. Cohen had been made by Mr. Jimenez in addition to in which Mr. Narasimhan had played no role. Mr. Jimenez retired coming from the company in January.
In a letter to employees last week, Mr. Narasimhan called the deal a “mistake” in which led the company to be criticized “by a world in which expects more coming from us.”
Mr. Jimenez has not responded to requests for comment.
Novartis has said in which Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference within the 2016 presidential election, contacted them last November to inquire about the connection to Mr. Cohen, in addition to in which the company cooperated with the investigation in addition to considers its role closed. Since last week, several Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon in addition to Patty Murray of Washington, sent Novartis letters demanding more information about the deal.
The telecommunications giant AT&T has also acknowledged paying Mr. Cohen $0,000 for a similar arrangement. AT&T has called the deal a “big mistake” in addition to last week said its top Washington lobbyist would likely be leaving.
As a large drug maker, Novartis had many reasons to want to seek favor with the federal government. Mr. Trump had vowed to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law in addition to had also promised to get tough on rising drug prices, which had rattled the pharmaceutical industry.
the item had several applications for brand new drugs before the Food in addition to Drug Administration, including for a groundbreaking brand new cancer treatment, Kymriah, which was approved last year in addition to for which the company has set a $475,000 cost tag.
Novartis will be also facing several federal inquiries into its conduct. The company has disclosed in which the item will be under investigation for its marketing practices for several products, including for the multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, in addition to in which the item has been subpoenaed in several industrywide investigations, including one looking into cost-fixing among generic drug makers in addition to another investigating the role of companies’ contributions to charitable groups in which provide financial assistance to patients who use Novartis’s products.
The company has also said in which the item will be being investigated by the authorities within the United States for its conduct overseas, including in Asian countries, in Greece in addition to in Russia.