Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that the company settled its dispute with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr without formally filing a malpractice claim. Additionally, the alleged late extension filing meant the Angiomax patent would have expired in 2010.
The Medicines Co. is an international pharmaceutical company based in Parsippany, N.J. The company sells three products in the United States: the blood thinners Angiomax and Argatroban and the blood-pressure medication Cleviprex. Last year it earned $550 million in global revenues, 95 percent of it from Angiomax sales. The company sells that drug directly to hospitals in the United States and elsewhere in the world. It employs more than 420 people globally.
LEGAL TEAM AND OUTSIDE COUNSEL
General counsel Paul Antinori’s team includes a corporate securities lawyer and an intellectual property lawyer. They focus on the corporate side of legal issues, said Antinori, who reports to chairman and chief executive officer Clive Meanwell. Indirectly, Antinori’s team works with three additional in-house lawyers who focus on compliance and contracting matters.
When hiring outside counsel, Antinori said, he looks for larger firms that can provide a high level of expertise. That includes Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (general corporate work, mergers and acquisitions); Sidley Austin (intellectual property, litigation, global compliance); Frommer Lawrence & Haug in New York (intellectual property); DLA Piper (government affairs, advice outside the United States in corporate and commercial matters); Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (mergers and acquisitions); and Gibbons, based in Newark, N.J. (litigation). Antinori has a long relationship with these firms, he said. He pays hourly rates but is exploring the option of custom billing. “We work with lawyers that we trust — and if we don’t, we don’t work with them,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
The most important thing on Antinori’s mind is protecting The Medicines Co.’s intellectual property. He also manages his legal team. Securities and compliance is a major part of their agenda, along with human resources matters and litigation with some H.R. issues and other litigation.
The Medicines Co. does considerable business internationally, and Antinori monitors this work from his office in New Jersey. The company is building its business in Eastern Europe, particularly Russia; the Asia-Pacific region; and South America, particularly Brazil. He spends a lot of time on the phone with his colleagues in those areas. He considers himself a corporate lawyer, but as general counsel necessarily is involved with more of the company, advising on deals and regularly working with the board of directors.
He spends most of his day working with his team on a range of corporate matters. Antinori is responsible for hiring and directing outside counsel, which usually operate on specific matters. When two firms are working on the same case, particularly litigation, he coordinates the two and makes sure each knows what the other is working on. In terms of deals, Antinori said, he will get involved but relies on their expertise.
THE BIG CASE
Talk about a bet-the-company case: In February 2001, when it was time for The Medicines Co. to file a patent extension for Angiomax, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concluded that its lawyers at Wilmer Cutler had missed the deadline by one day. The error meant the patent would expire in 2014, allowing generic manufacturers to enter the market.
Wilmer agreed to pay The Medicines Co. $18 million to cover expenses while fighting for the patent extension notwithstanding the missed deadline, plus an additional $214 million if a generic competitor for Angiomax were released before June 2015.
The company took the fight to Congress, hiring DLA Piper lobbyist Dick Armey to seek legislation allowing the patent office the discretion to extend patents under these circumstances, according to published accounts. As the legislation, which wags dubbed “The Dog Ate My Homework” bill, languished, the company turned to the courts, accusing the patent office of mistiming the extension deadline.
In August 2010, as The Associated Press reported at the time, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that the 60-day window for the application should have been calculated based on business days, rather than calendar days. The court granted Angiomax an interim patent extension until August 13, 2011. While a generic manufacturer fought that ruling in the appeals courts, Congress finally added an amendment to the America Invents Act granting the patent office the discretion to extend the Angiomax patent.
Antinori’s role during the effort was to coordinate the lobbying team and meet with members of Congress and their staff people as necessary, he said. During the lawsuit, he worked with outside counsel to make sure the arguments were on point and well presented.
Antinori was the only member of the in-house legal team involved in the lobbying and litigation campaign from start to finish, and described the efforts as an ordeal. “We didn’t want to sue the government, but we had to do it and we were successful,” he said.
ROUTE TO THE TOP
Antinori began his career as a litigator. He soon realized that he was more interested in deals, he said, and set out to become a corporate lawyer. The change took some time, but he was eventually hired as a partner in Gibbons’ corporate group.
After working there for 10 years, in 1998 he became general counsel of Physician Computer Network Inc., which developed practice-management software for doctors. At about the time he joined that company, management announced a restatement of its earnings report for 1997 — rather than a $10 million profit, the company had incurred losses of as much as $81 million, the Stanford Law Schools Securities Class Action Clearinghouse reported. A federal judge in the District of New Jersey approved a settlement in 2000.
“I was thrown into a mess from day one,” Antinori said. Still, during the crisis he developed a close relationship with the board of directors, he said, and gained first-hand experience in crisis and litigation management. By the time the company was sold, Antinori said, he had developed a taste for the corporate life. A friend tipped him that The Medicines Co. was looking for a general counsel and he took the job in May 2002.
Antinori has spent most of his life in New Jersey, where he lives today with his wife Debra “Debbie” Antinori. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College and spent one year abroad at the University of Durham, England, during his junior year. He received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. When asked about his hobbies he said, “good food and the Yankees.”
LAST BOOK AND MOVIE
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.