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Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has been plagued with legal ailments recently, but GC John McGoldrick is trying to find the right antidote. Among the symptoms: Bristol-Myers’ ill-fated investment in a highly touted new cancer drug from a controversial biotech firm; a rash of class action suits from shareholders alleging that the company made misleading statements about its products; antitrust charges by a majority of state attorneys general; and the impending expiration of vital drug patents. Despite these negative side effects on the fiscal health of the world’s third-largest drug company, McGoldrick’s own financial profile is rising. His $1.23 million in bonus and salary boosted the GC to No. 15 on this year’s compensation survey, up from a ranking of No. 38 last year. Even more impressive are the greenbacks he didn’t see. McGoldrick, 61, is sitting on $17 million in stock options that are “in the money,” but he opted not to exercise any last year. His patience may pay off if the market rebounds — Bristol-Myers’ stock has plummeted 41 percent over the last year. Wall Street hasn’t failed to notice the Manhattan-based company’s woes. The pharmaceutical giant’s research pipeline is stalling, and its reported attempts to protect the diabetes medicine Glucophage and the anxiety remedy BuSpar from generic competition appear unlikely to prevail. Bristol-Myers was also betting $2 billion on Erbitux, an experimental cancer treatment developed by New York’s ImClone Systems Inc. But in the last days of 2001, the Food and Drug Administration summarily refused to review the Erbitux application. McGoldrick and his crew came to the rescue and stanched the damage. In March they renegotiated the companies’ deal and reduced Bristol-Myers’ payments to ImClone. McGoldrick’s services may not come cheap, but when a company is under the weather, effective legal doctoring can be worth the high price.

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