US biopharma company Gilead Sciences hires new GC from Merck spinoff Organon

Deborah Telman replaces Brett Pletcher, who is retiring after 17 years at the company

US biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences has appointed a new general counsel to replace its current legal head who is retiring after almost two decades with the organisation.

Veteran in-house lawyer Deborah Telman will take up the role from the start of next month when incumbent Brett Pletcher steps down after 17 years at the California-based company. Telman joins from Merck’s women’s health spinoff Organon & Co, where she served as the company’s GC and was responsible for legal affairs, ethics and compliance, and global environmental health and safety. In her new role at Gilead, she will also serve as executive vice president for corporate affairs and as company secretary, reporting to chairman and chief executive officer Daniel O’Day.

O’Day said: “With more than 25 years’ experience of building and leading global teams, a strong focus on culture and a passion for health equity, I know that Deb will be an outstanding addition to our team.”

Prior to her time at Merck and Organon, Telman was senior vice president and GC at Sorrento Therapeutics and before that, Johnson Controls and Abbott. She also had a spell in-house at Boeing, where she was chief counsel for M&A, having started her legal career in private practice as an associate at legacy Chicago firm Hopkins & Sutter and then as a partner at Winston & Strawn. 

Telman said she is eager to drive health equity globally and help deliver healthcare innovations for patients with the greatest needs. Gilead’s products include drugs designed to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. It operates in 35 countries around the world.

Pletcher leaves after more than a decade as the company’s GC, having initially joined the company in 2005. His role was expended in 2019 to cover the company’s corporate affairs functions, including government policy. He previously worked in private practice at Gunderson Dettmer. Before doing his law degree, Pletcher was a senior consultant at Price Waterhouse.

O’Day said: “During Brett’s 17-year career with Gilead, he has helped to shape the company as it expanded to become a global organisation helping millions of patients worldwide.”

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