Global healthcare group Novartis revealed Wednesday that it paid Trump lawyer Michael Cohen $1.2 million for healthcare policy consulting work that he proved “unable” to do. CNBC reported that Novartis said it signed a one-year contract with Cohen’s shell company, Essential Consultants, for $100,000 per month in February 2017, shortly after Trump was inaugurated as president.
It also reported that Novartis said it believed Cohen “could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. health-care policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act.” But just a month after signing the deal, Novartis executives had their first meeting with Cohen, and afterward “determined that Michael Cohen and Essentials Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated.” But Novartis kept paying Cohen. “As the contract, unfortunately, could only be terminated for cause, payments continued to be made until the contract expired by its own terms in February 2018,” Novartis said. That means that Cohen was paid up to $1.2 million for his work.
Financial Times reported that Novartis was at pains to point out that the arrangement was struck before the present Novartis chief executive, Vas Narasimhan, took over the top job, and that he was in no way involved. After a dinner at Davos attended by corporate leaders in January this year, Mr Narasimhan described the Trump administration as having a “very constructive mindset”.
Fierce Pharma reported that Novartis has previously said it stepped up its global ethics and compliance measures, including revising its ethics policies to help its local units around the world make the right decisions. It also just promoted Shannon Klinger to the position of chief ethics, risk and compliance officer on the company’s executive committee, following the complaints from investors in March.