Jeffrey B. Kindler is a healthcare executive and private investor in the United States.
Jeff Kindler is the CEO of Centrexion Inc., a privately held clinical stage biopharmaceutical company that develops pain therapeutics, and Chairman of the GLG Institute, a membership-based community of prominent executives, policy leaders, technologists, and scientists that convenes engagements to support business and skill development for the world's top professionals. Prior to joining Centrexion, Kindler was the CEO of Pfizer from 2006-2010. He is also a Venture Partner at Lux Capital, a leading venture capital firm, and a director at Starboard Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm.
He previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and worked at the law firm Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. He then moved to the corporate sector with a period as Vice President and Senior Counselor for General Electric Co. and later as Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations and General Counsel for McDonald's. He rose to become President of Partner Brands (including Boston Market and Chipotle Mexican Grill) for McDonald's until 2002, when he moved to Pfizer to serve as General Counsel. Kindler's role at Pfizer quickly took on critical importance as the company faced a vast array of generic assaults on its patents, most notably on the $12 billion drug Lipitor, and the rising threat of counterfeit drugs.
Kindler also serves on the boards of a number of public and privately held companies, including Intrexon Inc. (NYSE: XON), Siga Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SIGA), AgaMatrix, and PPD, LLC. (Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC). Kindler also serves on several nonprofit boards, including Tufts University; the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia); and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He is a member of President Obama’s Management Advisory Board.
Kindler began his career as an attorney at the Federal Communications Commission. He served as a law clerk to Judge David L. Bazelon of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit and later as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr.. Following his clerkship with Justice Brennan, Kindler practiced civil and criminal litigation at the Washington D.C. firm of Williams & Connolly, where he became a partner. Kindler served as Co-Counsel to Elena Kagan in United States v. Jarrett Woods.
General Electric Co. (GE)
In 1990, Kindler joined the legal team at General Electric and began working under Ben Heineman, who was recognized for revolutionizing the role of the in-house corporate lawyer. Kindler was promoted to Vice President of Litigation and Legal Policy and worked alongside a number of GE lawyers who went on to major executive roles at other companies, including Bill Lytton, future general counsel of Tyco International; Theodore Boehm, future Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court; and Frank Blake, future Chief Executive Officer of The Home Depot. In 1994, Kindler worked with future Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division William Baer and renowned trial lawyer Dan Webb on the winning litigation team tasked with defending GE against diamond price-fixing claims. Although GE was acquitted at trial, De Beers was also charged and subsequently pleaded guilty to keeping prices in the worldwide industrial diamond market artificially high.
In 1996, Kindler joined McDonald's Corporation as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for legal and corporate affairs. After leading the successful acquisition of Boston Market, Kindler became President of Boston Market Corp. and then of Partner Brands, which consisted of all of McDonald’s non-hamburger concepts, which included, in addition to Boston Market, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Donato’s Pizza, Pret a Manger, and others. At the time of Kindler’s appointment, the company was trying to revive its USA restaurant brand amid slow sales growth and an increasingly health-conscious consumer base. Recognizing Boston Market’s loyal customer base, Kindler remodeled stores across the country and placed a greater emphasis on catering to boost earnings. As a result, the chain saw year-on-year sales increases of 7% to 8% every month, while revenue grew to more than $700 million a year.
In 2002, Kindler became the General Counsel at Pfizer Inc., the largest research-based biopharmaceutical company in the world. In this role, Kindler managed a wide variety of legal challenges facing the company. Importantly, his team successfully defended several patents for Lipitor against Ranbaxy Laboratories.
In February 2005, Kindler was named Vice Chairman joining the company’s four-person executive committee and assuming additional responsibilities for Pfizer’s corporate affairs division. Kindler’s responsibilities included overseeing many of the company’s major corporate functions, including worldwide legal affairs, corporate and regulatory compliance, government relations, corporate communications, public policy development, corporate citizenship, global security and philanthropy.
Under Kindler’s leadership as Vice Chairman and General Counsel, Pfizer provided legal support for families of 9/11 victims, among other pro bono efforts. The Legal Aid Society recognized Pfizer for "creating the prototype for corporate pro bono," for which Kindler accepted the Pro Bono Publico and Public Service Corporate awards. He received the first GC Leadership Award in recognition of his work aiding low-income New Yorkers and the 2005 Exemplar Award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) for his service to the community.
On July 28, 2006, Pfizer's board of directors selected Kindler to succeed Henry A. McKinnell, Jr. as Chief Executive Officer. Later in 2006, Kindler was elected by Pfizer's board of directors to serve the additional role of Chairman.
In 2009, Kindler oversaw Pfizer’s $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth, the largest pharmaceutical acquisition in nearly a decade. The acquisition gave Pfizer access to Wyeth’s entire product line, eight late-stage clinical trials, and four compounds awaiting FDA approval. The Wyeth takeover helped Pfizer overcome flat revenue, diminishing returns on research, and looming generic competition to the world’s top-selling drug, Lipitor. Pfizer became more diversified in key growth areas such as vaccines, biological drugs, veterinary medicine, and consumer products. The company also bolstered its research and science activity in the fields of oncology, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, pain, and schizophrenia.
Within a year of the Wyeth acquisition, Pfizer added 9 biologics and 5 vaccines to the development pipeline. The merger resulted in the release of 17 different prescription drugs on the market, with a distribution in revenue to offer protections from patent expirations. Pfizer also acquired consumer health products such as Advil and Robitussin, as well as the pneumococcal vaccine Prevnar. The Wyeth merger resulted in more than $1 billion in savings for Pfizer, and no single product accounted for more than 10% of the Pfizer’s combined revenue in 2012. In 2013, Pfizer received nearly $4 billion in revenue from its Prevnar vaccine, which doubled the revenue of other high-profile drugs like Lipitor and Viagra. Kindler also streamlined Pfizer‘s internal process, consolidating research facilities from 10 to six while streamlining research projects from 475 to 223.
Under Kindler’s leadership, Pfizer launched a program to distribute more than 70 of its medications for free to people who meet certain criteria, including job loss and the absence of prescription drug insurance.
While leading Pfizer, Kindler also collaborated with former President Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiatives on a range of programs reducing the costs of essential medicines for people in developing markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. These programs were especially impactful in providing better, more affordable treatment for AIDS patients in these regions.
Kindler retired unexpectedly from Pfizer in 2010, raising mixed reports from the media. An in-depth article by Fortune Magazine included reporting on accusations of a power play by upper management. Pfizer would go on to thank Kindler for helping to build a foundation for growth at the company, including its business unit structure and acquisition of Wyeth.
In 2012, Kindler joined Lux Capital, a leading venture capital firm that invests in emerging technologies in the physical and life sciences. As a Venture Partner, along with former CIA Director Jim Woolsey and former McKinsey & Company Senior Partner Richard N. Foster, Kindler supports the entire Lux sourcing and portfolio management effort, with a particular focus on new healthcare investment opportunities.
Kindler currently serves as CEO of Centrexion Corp., a biotechnology company based in Baltimore, Maryland. The company’s management team also includes Kerrie L. Brady and Dr. James N. Campbell, a professor of neurological surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of the Blaustein Pain Treatment Center. In addition to Kindler, Campbell, and Brady, the company was founded by Sol Barer, former Chairman and CEO of Celgene, Inc.; Arnold Oronsky, senior partner at Interwest Ventures; and Isaac Blech, private biotech investor.
Honors and public recognition
Kindler previously served as Chairman of PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America), a leading representative of pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies. Kindler also served as Chairman of the U.S. Japan Business Council and as a member of the President’s Export Council, the Shanghai Mayor’s Business Advisory Council, the Business Council, and the Business Roundtable. He formerly served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
In 2011, Kindler was elected to the board of directors for The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia). He also sits on the boards of the Manhattan Theater Club and Tufts University. He has also served on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Catalyst, United Way of New York City, the Legal Aid Society of New York, and Lincoln Center.
While CEO of Pfizer in 2008, Jeffrey B. Kindler earned a total compensation of $14,788,302, which included a base salary of $1,575,000, a cash bonus of $3,000,000, stocks granted of $7,553,015, and options granted of $2,222,026.
"Justifying Kindler's 12.5 percent salary increase to $1.8 million, the Pfizer's proxy report stated:
During 2009, Mr. Kindler was actively involved, through both Pfizer and external organizations, in developing and advancing U.S. and global public policies that serve the overall interests of our Company and our shareholders. These efforts included constructive participation in the U.S. legislative process to advance Pfizer's goals of achieving a more rational operating environment; improving Americans' access to quality, affordable health care."
Kindler is a member of President Barack Obama’s Management Advisory Board. He donated $5,000 to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
During his tenure at Pfizer, Kindler advocated for a series of U.S. healthcare reform and intellectual property protection measures. In a presentation to the Senate Finance Committee, he highlighted the need for stronger enforcement of counterfeit drug offenders, amendments to the anti-counterfeit trade agreement, and expanding data exclusivity.
Kindler backed the idea of comprehensive health care reform in the United States, supporting the idea of affordable, public insurance plans for low-income families.
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