"Leadership is really much more important than management at this level," Kindler says. "And leadership means trying to communicate
a set of values and missions to the organization, and then empowering many talented, skilled people to implement them."
Under Kindler, lawyers seem to stretch for new approaches to problems, and to feel free to enlist outside help from unusual
sources. Marc Brotman, a Pfizer lawyer assigned to the Viagra group, thought about the nation's e-mail inboxes filling up
with Viagra spam (none of which is sent by Pfizer) and called Microsoft for help. He encountered Aaron Kornblum, an attorney
who tracks and sues spammers under the CAN SPAM Act, a federal law that allows Internet service providers to bring civil suits
against owners of Web sites that send unsolicited bulk e-mail. Some of the spammers Kornblum was chasing turned out to be
sites marketing illegal generic Viagra produced in India and diverted to the United States.
"We could go after them for trademark infringement, for false advertising," Brotman says. "But Microsoft brought the spam
action to it, and they were able to identify sites when they set up what are called 'trap accounts,' trap e-mail accounts."
One measure of any research-based company's success is how well it protects patents at home. Nicholas Groombridge, a partner
at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP in New York, is impressed with Pfizer's record defending patents on Accupril (quinapril), Diflucan
(fluconazole), Lipitor, Norvasc (amlodipine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Zithromax (azithromycin). But he points to one serious
adverse decision on two Neurontin (gabapentin) patents in August 2005. A New Jersey court ruled that the patents were indeed
valid, but also decided that products by a dozen generic companies did not infringe on them, and so declined to enjoin the
manufacturers from making the drug. "We expect to be able soon to appeal the summary judgment decisions and, pending the outcome
of an appeal, hold a full trial on all the issues," Pfizer said in a statement. "If we prevail at trial, then Pfizer will
pursue damages from these companies for their at-risk launches."
Says Groombridge: "It looks to me like they've had a pretty good run, particularly in a climate that was hostile to Big Pharma.
I think you could give them a solid B+ [for defending their patents]. When it comes to legal expenses, I'd say they are paying
between $100 million and $150 million a year to litigate. It's a lot of money, but the upside is far greater than that."
Kindler says Pfizer will fight for any patent in any country, no matter how small the drug and how minor the market. However,
his approach to protecting innovation goes beyond protecting intellectual property. He recently reached out to Charlene Barshefsky,
now senior international partner at WilmerHale in Washington, DC, who served as US Trade Representative during the Clinton
administration, to advise Pfizer on foreign policy matters. In particular, Ambassador Barshefsky looks at practices of economic
and foreign governments—including their (lack of) transparency and due process, their systems of reimbursement and access,
among others—that are often designed to promote the interests of domestic industry at the expense of innovators from abroad.
This not only affects pharmaceuticals, but information technology and other industries as well.
"In some countries in Europe, when you apply for a pricing decision," Barshefsky says, "the government prices a brand new
innovative drug at the level of generic drugs, so as not to disadvantage their own domestic manufacturers." Such pricing
practices, Barshefsky notes, which are often shrouded from public view, frequently save government payers money in the short
run, and discourage market penetration for new drugs. Not only do they keep less efficacious drugs on the shelves when better
ones have been developed, the equal prices imply that the older drugs are just as good as the new ones.
"It's free-riding on innovation that someone else had to pay for," Barshefsky contends, being careful not to name specific
countries. "There is an attempt by many countries to leapfrog into a leading position, but not on the basis of their own innovative