Pfizer, Abbott Labs, AbbVie Legal Chiefs Get Big Pharma Paydays

Betty Q. Hixson

The law department leaders at Pfizer Inc., Abbott Laboratories, and AbbVie Inc. collectively received roughly $26 million in total compensation last year, according to a trio of recent securities filings.

New York-based Pfizer paid longtime general counsel Douglas Lankler more than $7.1 million in 2021, according to an annual proxy statement filed March 17. Pfizer is one of several Big Pharma companies continuing to reap the benefits from a coronavirus pandemic-related uptick in business.

Abbott Labs disclosed in a proxy filed March 18 that its general counsel Hubert Allen received nearly $6.4 million last year. The company in January landed a lucrative U.S. government contract to make testing kits for Covid-19.

AbbVie, a pharmaceutical spin-off from suburban Chicago-based Abbott Labs, paid chief legal officer Laura Schumacher $12.4 million in total compensation last year, according to a proxy filed Monday.

Lankler took over as Pfizer’s general counsel in early 2014 and became a named executive officer at the pharmaceutical giant last year, according to the company’s proxy. He joined Pfizer in 1999 after stints as a federal prosecutor and earlier a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Pfizer paid Lankler nearly $3.3 million in cash compensation—including more than $1.1 million in base salary and almost $2.4 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation—along with about $3.4 million in stock and option awards.

Lankler advised Pfizer on “all aspects of our Covid-19 response,” including “contracting with governments and non-governmental organizations” to provide vaccines and oral therapies around the world, the company said in the proxy.

He also helped Pfizer reach “favorable resolutions” in competition law and intellectual property-related litigation matters, the company said. Pfizer praised Lankler’s efforts and leadership on its diversity and inclusion goals, including “managing and developing internal talent and in working with external law firms,” according to its proxy.

Lankler didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Securities filings show that Lankler sold off almost $2.2 million in Pfizer stock last year. He now owns more than $6.4 million in company stock, per Bloomberg data.

Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech SE, last week asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve another booster of their Covid-19 vaccine for older adults.

Moderna Inc.—a rival in the Covid-19 vaccine landscape—paid its new legal chief Shannon Thyme Klinger nearly $11.5 million in total compensation last year, the company said in a proxy filed earlier this month.

Abbott Labs, AbbVie

Allen’s pay package at Abbott Labs was comprised of almost $1.7 million in cash and more than $4.2 million in stock and options awards, per the company’s filing.

Abbott Labs credited Allen with resolving key litigation matters and investigations, as well as meeting its talent, succession planning, and diversity targets.

Securities filings show that Allen—a prominent diversity and inclusion advocate in the legal industry—has sold off more than $25 million in Abbott Labs stock since early 2021. He now owns about $20.3 million in company stock, per Bloomberg data.

AbbVie struck out in 2020 on an experimental treatment for Covid-19.

Schumacher’s 2021 pay package dipped slightly from the $17.1 million she received a year earlier from the North Chicago, Ill.-based company.

Her compensation included roughly $5.3 million in stock and options awards and nearly $3.9 million in cash. The latter was comprised of more than $1.2 million in base salary and over $2.6 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation.

Schumacher was credited by AbbVie for working to resolve key litigation matters, protect the drugmaker’s product pipeline, and support research and development and strategic initiatives.

Schumacher also serves as the company’s vice chair of external affairs and corporate secretary. She spoke last year with Bloomberg Law about improving diversity among outside counsel.

Bloomberg data show that Schumacher currently owns more than $39.3 million in AbbVie stock. She has sold off almost $23.7 million in company stock within the past year, according to securities filings.

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