A big pharma CEO said he was 'completely blindsided' by his company's deal with Trump's former lawyer

Courtesy of ForbesNovartis CEO Vas Narasimhan speaks at the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York.
  • Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said on Thursday he was “completely blindsided” when the drug company was thrown into the political spotlight.
  • Novartis came under scrutiny in May after it was revealed that it had signed a $US1.2 million yearlong contract with Cohen’s consulting firm in February 2017.
  • Speaking at the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York, Narasimhan said that he wasn’t “mentally prepared” for the blowback after only three months on the job.

In May, Novartis made national headlines, but not because of anything related to the drugs the pharma giant produces.

Instead, it was revealed that Novartis was among the companies listed in paying Essential Consulting, a firm linked to Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer.

Novartis said at the time that it had signed a yearlong, $US1.2 million contract, but after one meeting with Cohen, decided not to engage further.

Narasimhan said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit on Thursday that he was “completely blindsided” by news of the contract.

Novartis changed CEOs in February, with Narasimhan replacing former CEO Joe Jimenez. Narasimhan was only three months into the job when the company was thrown into the political spotlight.

“I was not mentally prepared,” he said, adding that he got a call from his mum during the time of the incident asking if he’d seen CNN.


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