Practicing Generic Pharmaceuticals at TEVA: Practicing Working as a Full-fledged Lawyer

Practicing Generic Pharmaceuticals at TEVA: Practicing Working as a Full-fledged Lawyer

Richard de Almeida is a 3L JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School. This article was written as a requirement for Prof. Pina D’Agostino’s IP Intensive Program.

This semester, as part of Osgoode’s Intellectual Property Law & Technology Intensive Program, I had the pleasure of participating in a 10-week internship at Teva Canada (“Teva”), a (mainly) generics pharmaceutical company, and it was the highlight of my tenure thus far at Osgoode.

Heading into the program, I had one main goal: to know what it’s like to truly practice law. Frankly, after two years in law school, I feel like I know the general schema of academically learning any new type of law. You start with the legislation, fill in the gaps with the caselaw, and get some secondary commentary to critique and make unique arguments around the current framework. Working at Teva has given me this experience of feeling like a real practicing lawyer and so much more.

Within minutes of working there, I was already growing in my legal development from being academically into practically trained as I learned about my supervisor’s door policy, to protect Teva’s confidentiality in all dealings. As obvious as it sounds in hindsight, his door policy really opened my eyes. In law school’s academic setting, we always learned the importance of confidentiality and the implications of failing that duty. But it was always presented as a mistake we’d make intentionally, or at least explicitly. I never realized how something as simple as a door policy can give life to these principles. It was the perfect microcosm to exemplify the difference between learning and practicing the law, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Throughout the term, I continued to have these realizations. In the patent law textbook, we learned about filing and expiry dates of patents in one chapter, and grounds for invalidity in another. In practice, these two are connected. Teva can never rely on a patent expiry date as another generic may be in litigation to invalidate that patent tomorrow, in which case Teva would be too behind to launch their own version of the medicine if they weren’t paying attention to the litigation within the industry. This integration of patent law concepts also demonstrated the interplay between business and the law as the legal department’s vigilance on these matters was crucial to business success.

This is where the learning experience truly took off. Not only did I learn what it meant to be a practising lawyer, but also what it meant to be an in-house counsel. If you’re someone who likes to juggle multiple tasks at a time, in-house counsel is the way to go as I saw my supervisor, Ben Gray, who is Vice-President and General Counsel of Teva, manage a multitude of tasks. From meetings with the Canadian Generics Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), Teva’s industry association to discuss policy goals to ensure Teva and the generic industry’s future, to dealing with Health Canada policy changes implicating the importation of drug products, to understanding the litigation landscape, to managing internal conflicts such as human resource or product liability suits; the list and tasks to do are both endlessly engaging and vital to the entire business.

I also had the privilege of making contract amendments and drafting an entirely new contract through “Canadianizing” an American reference contract. I participated in a settlement negotiation. I attended a patent law Colloquium that Teva sponsors at University of Toronto. I also had the pleasure of speaking to and working with Teva’s External Counsel at firms like Osler and Aitken Klee whose expertise on PM(NOC) litigation was enriching.

Lastly what I most appreciated from the Intensive experience was the kindness and support from everyone at Teva. Sometimes playing catch-up can make you feel like you’re burdening the team, but everyone was willing to teach me with genuine excitement which was so precious to my experience. I am so grateful to everyone I worked with at Teva as well as Professor Pina D’Agostino and Ashley Moniz for providing and administrating this valuable and essential program. The skills I have developed over my internship will assuredly help me in my legal career and I will always be proud to say I was an Intensive alumnus.