There are many general counsel taking new positions for the start of 2014, and many of those switches have been planned for a long time. But one major company comes in late with a surprise GC shift at the end of the year — pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Pfizer GC Amy Schulman has announced she is leaving the company. Previously, she was supposed to step into a role as head of Pfizer’s new Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer Healthcare division. But instead, in a statement issued Dec. 17, it was announced she would be leaving all of her roles, including GC and her spot on the executive board, effective immediately.

“I have enjoyed my years at Pfizer and wish the company and my many friends and colleagues well,” Schulman said in a statement issued through a company spokesman. The release did not give a reason for Schulman electing to step down, other than to say it was a mutual decision.

Douglas Lankler will immediately take over Schulman’s role as company GC. He previously served as chief compliance and risk officer, a role that will now be filled by Rady Johnson.

Schulman had been the company’s GC since June 2008, but within the past year, the company was rocked by multiple penalties resulting from litigation. In July, the company paid $491 million to resolve a case of one of its subsidiaries, Wyeth, marketing the drug Rapamune for uses unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration. And in March, the company settled out of court for $273 million over allegations its smoking-cessation drug Chantix caused injuries and carried a risk of suicide.

Schulman and her Pfizer legal team were named one of 2011′s top ten legal innovators in InsideCounsel’s August 2011 issue. Schulman’s in-house legal team was noted for their work delegating duties to outside legal counsel while still maintaining a cohesive, strong in-house unit.


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