HDA Class of 1999
School of Business 1951, Graduate School of Management 1958
Irwin Lerner worked for Hoffmann-LaRoche for 32 years, before retiring as chair, president, and CEO in 1993. Under his leadership, the size and profitability of the company more than quadrupled. In the mid-1980s, he led industry reforms that streamlined FDA drug approvals. He oversaw the passage of the landmark Prescription Drug User Fee legislation, which expedited the review and approval of new drugs. He is credited with originating the concept of "co-promotion" in the pharmaceutical industry, a method whereby two companies combine forces to promote a product. Using this method, he introduced the anti-ulcer drug Zantac, which at its peak, was the bestselling drug in history. Lerner is a founding member of the New Jersey Governor's Commission on Science and Technology. In 1994, he became the first Distinguished Executive-in-Residence at Rutgers' Graduate School of Management, where he created a successful speaker series linking students and faculty with prominent businesspeople. He has since been instrumental in the development of Rutgers Business School programs in pharmaceutical management, particularly in supporting the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for Pharmaceutical Management Studies, which was established in 2004.