Who Is Peter R. Dolan?

Peter R. Dolan is best known as the former CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb who was fired in 2006 after a bungled attempt to settle a patent dispute that resulted in the company hiding information from the Federal Trade Commission. Bristol-Myers Squibb paid a $1 million fine, but Dolan was not charged in the incident.

Key Takeaways

  • Peter R. Dolan is an executive with experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • He is best known as the former CEO of Bristol Meyers-Squibb who was fired in 2006 after the company mishandled a patent dispute.
  • In the twenty-teens, Dolan has served on the board of trustees of Tufts University (as chairman), Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and the nonprofit ChildObesity180.

Peter R. Dolan Biography and Career

Peter R. Dolan was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1956. He earned his BA from Tufts University in 1978 in social psychology and his MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in 1980.

In 1983 he joined General Foods, which was a major corporation in the prepared food business at the time. Dolan operated in several product-related roles until the company was acquired in 1985 by Philip Morris Companies (now known as Altria Group Inc.) for $5.1 billion. In an interview with The New York Times from Feb. 2001, Dolan said the acquisition made him decide to take the job at BMS: ''I decided I wanted to work at a health care company,'' he said, ''rather than a tobacco company.''

Bristol Meyers-Squibb Years

Dolan joined Bristol Myers-Squibb in 1988 and held various senior management positions, including president of the company's Products Division and Mead Johnson Nutrition spin-off and group president of Medical Devices and Nutritionals. He became president in 2000 and chairman of the board and CEO in 2001.

Before Dolan became CEO, BMS was "one of the most aggressive drug companies in filing lawsuits and using other legal maneuvers to try to add months or years to the dates that the patents on its medicines are set to expire." His predecessor, Charles Heimbold Jr., left during an investigation into the company for inflating its sales by more than $2.5 billion through a practice known as channel stuffing, though Heimbold himself was not accused of wrongdoing.

Dolan's undoing came because of a patent dispute over Plavix, a blood-thinning drug and a major source of the company's revenue. BSM along with its partner Sanofi-Aventis developed Plavix, which was the second best-selling drug in the world at that time, with annual sales of about $5.9 billion. The partners were seeking to prevent Apotex, a small Canadian generic drugmaker, from entering the U.S. market by offering "reverse settlements," where big, brand name drug companies pay generic rivals to stay out of the market for a drug until a certain date, usually after the expiration of a long-term patent.

Dolan believed the actions of the executive team were legal in pursuing the deal, and he told The Financial Times, "The company believes that all of its conduct relating to the proposed Plavix settlement has been entirely appropriate and coordinated throughout with senior outside counsel." But the state attorney general refused to sign off on the deal, and Apotex launched a generic version of Plavix that grabbed three-fourths of new prescriptions within a year and BMS lost an estimated $600 million in sales.

A spokesman for Bristol Myers-Squibb said the Plavix incident "had become an unfortunate distraction that shifted the focus away from the company's accomplishments and continued execution of strategy. The board held Peter, as C.E.O., accountable."

After Bristol Meyers-Squibb

After leaving Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dolan was named chairman of the board and CEO of Gemin X Pharmaceuticals Inc.

He is chairman of the board of trustees of Tufts University, having been elected as chairman in Nov. 2013, and has served as a trustee since 2001. He is also vice chair of the board of directors for the partnership for a Healthier America.

He has served on the boards of several for-profits and nonprofits, including the American Express Company, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and the Tuck School Board of Overseers at Dartmouth College. He has also served as chairman of the board of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.