PharmExec Blog

Judge Throws The Book At Former Bristol-Myers Squibb Exec

Media wordsmiths are competing to outdo one another today in punny reporting on the news that ex-BMS exec Andrew Bodnar has been sentenced to write a book about the role he played in the firm’s 2006 reverse-payments case over generic Plavix.

“Pen-ance: Bristol-Myers Exec Gets Two Years of Hard Writing,” The Wall Street Journal Law Blog titled its piece.

“Call him the homework judge, not the hanging judge,” reads The New York Times’ lede. The paper goes on to note that “this is not the first time Judge Urbina has demanded written penance” in white-collar crime cases.

The jokiness is apt. The BMS-Apotex case set a comically new record for deception and incompetence ever for Big Pharma—making then–BMS CEO Peter Dolan, whose plush Park Avenue office was turned upside down during a very public FBI visit, a poster boy for industry bad behavior. The case itself was settled in 2007, with BMS pleading guilty to two counts of making false statements to the antitrust probers and paying the maximum fine, $1 million.

Yet Bodnar, Dolan’s hand-picked negotiator in the secret deal it had cut—and then bungled big time—with Apotex to delay knockoffs of the megabluckbuster bloodthinner, remained a loose end. Flash-forward to yesterday, when Urbina, tied him up quite nicely, sentencing Bodnar, who had pleaded guilty to a single count of making a false statement, to pay a $5,000 fine, serve two years’ probation—and produce a book about his descent into crime.

“I would like to see you write a book” so other people “don’t find themselves in a similar situation,” Urbina told Bodnar. “Who knows, it may even be inspirational.”

For all the humor, however, the judge may not be entirely joking. After all, the presumption that lessons can be learned by pharma’s new generation of leaders from an honest accounting of the BMS-Apotex misadventure isn’t as quirky as it may seem. (For a memory-refresher on the truly bizarre twists and turns, BNET Pharma’s Jim Edwards can’t be beat.)

Of course, whether Bodnar is up to the task is another question. His attorney was reported by Bloomberg as saying that Bodnar “is ‘gratified’ that the matter has been put behind him.”

Peter Dolan, who got tossed from BMS with a $10 million golden parachute, is probably hoping that’s exactly where the matter stays.

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