Novartis under fire for dealings with Trump attorney

May 11, 2018

Shortly after the election of President Trump, Novartis entered into a one year agreement with Essential Consultants, hoping, says Novartis, that Michael Cohen could advise the company as to how the Trump administration might approach certain U.S. healthcare policy matters, including the Affordable Care Act.

According to Novartis, the agreement was for a term of one year, and paid Essential Consultants $100,000 per month. However, after Novartis had its first meeting with Cohen under the agreement, the drugmaker determined that Cohen would be unable to provide the services anticipated and decided to cease engagement. The contract could not be terminated, however, and payments continued to be made until the contract expired by its own terms in February 2018.

Critics are questioning the drugmaker's motives, however. Around the same timeframe as the deal, Novartis was preparing to launch Kymriah, the first of a new class of therapies based on CAR-T.
Many suspect that Novartis, seeking reimbursement for Kymriah from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was looking to buy influence with President trump.

Novartis considers this matter closed  and is "not aware of any outstanding questions regarding the agreement."