Bristol Myers Squibb Exec Ordered to Write Book For Punishment

Bristol Myers Squibb Exec Ordered to Write Book For Punishment

May 17th, 2012 // 1:31 pm @


Three years ago, a former Bristol-Myers Squibb senior vice president named Andrew Bodnar pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities about a botched patent deal involving the Plavix blood thinner, an episode that contributed to an overhaul of its c-suite. As for Bodnar, a judge did something highly unusual that quickly became a wry joke – instead of throwing the book at him, he ordered Bodnar to write a book so others might learn from his alleged mistakes.

Now, the book is out…sort of. A 253-page manuscript, which was entitled ‘The First Question,’ was filed in federal court last October as part of the deal (which also included a $5,000 fine). Although his memoir may not be considered a page turner (he is no Keith Richards), Bodnar does provide some useful insights into some of the behind-the-scenes workings of the pharmaceutical industry. And he mostly does so in a confessional tone.

“He ordered me to tell my story. To write a cautionary tale. To tell others how to avoid the Gehenom (which is Hebrew and roughly means netherworld) in which I have found myself for the past five years. Thankfully, for everyone other than me, this hell is so particular, that no judge’s order could ever generalize it. And, yet, by order of the court, I must write the story. And so I have,” Bodnar writes.

The tale begins when Bodnar is traveling and receives an urgent phone call from a lawyer at Cravath, Swaine and Moore that the FBI has raided his office – and the office of Peter Dolan, who was the Bristol-Myers ceo at the time. Chaos reigns but, as I will soon learn, this is as nothing compared to the vacuum that is about to suck the air from my every breath for years to come,” he writes.

After deciding that he would not begin the book by urging readers to ‘call me schlemiel,’ the 64-year-old Bodnar proceeds to tell his version of events. The feds say he lied to the Federal Trade Commission about the arrangement between Bristol and its Plavix marketing partner, Sanofi, to keep Apotex from launching a generic version of Plavix. Bodnar writes the feds clung to a “mistaken belief that I had made a statement to the government that I knew to be false.”

Much of his recounting is inside baseball, but offers interesting glimpses into the approach taken toward generic competition and, particularly, dealings with Apotex. There is also a lot of detail concerning the government investigation and subsequent haggling over events, especially those that will determine his fate. There are also sections that review his uncomfortable dealings with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was the US Attorney at the time.

But the often-dry story is interspersed with sweet memories of his childhood and family life, which are told in third person. Notably, Bodnar recounts how his mother survived the Holocaust, the escape from Communist Hungary as the Soviets invaded in 1956 and the life of an immigrant family in the United States during an era when prosperity and achievement seemed always in reach.

Although his mother, Magda, developed Alzheimer’s, Bodnar imagines she would have told him that ” ‘at least they had to go to a judge to get a search warrant,’ continuing to make the argument she never stopped making for the ‘Land of the Free’ to which she had, at great peril and to her own well being, brought her son,” he writes. She passed shortly before he was indicted.

We asked his attorney about publication for the public, but have not heard back. We will update you accordingly. Meanwhile, if you have some free time, you can read ‘The First Question’ right here. [UPDATE: One of his attorneys wrote us to say that they “have nothing more to say about Dr. Bodnar…As you can imagine, Dr. Bodnar has moved on and does not wish to re-visit a painful part of his life.]

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