Working in Life Sciences Law During the Pandemic: A Westborough Source Shares

Emily Bruck '21 and Audrey Soukup '21

Michelle Axelrod, a longtime resident of Westborough, has been interested in healthcare for as long as she can remember. She is now a life sciences lawyer and works closely with pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and diagnostics companies that develop, manufacture, and market medical products. This, no doubt, has been essential during the current health crisis we are facing, and Axelrod finds herself at a pivotal point in her field. 

When asked why she ultimately decided to go into this field Axelrod states: 

“Healthcare is such a critical part of our society… I have been long committed to supporting the availability of and access to medicines and related medical products. Working in this space is really important to me.”  

Currently, she is a Principal of the law firm of Porzio, Bromberg, Newman and VP of Porzio Life Sciences, where she provides legal counseling and compliance services to life science companies. In her position, Axelrod works closely with these companies and supervises a team of people at the firm who support their clients. 

“In simplest terms, you know how you see those advertisements for drugs and medicine on tv? Part of what I do is to review those advertisements and provide advice to the companies on potential legal risks and make sure that they’re careful with respect to how they are communicating to the public about their products.”

But her role is much more than that. Axelrod helps these companies to comply with government regulations and helps them avoid engaging in unlawful activities or communications. She also helps companies bring new products to market and support patient access.

Life sciences is one of the many industries that has been very active during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When asked how her job has been impacted by the pandemic, Axelrod described how the pace of product development has picked up.

“Companies have been moving faster than ever to develop products, like tests, medical treatments and vaccines, and get them to market quickly. It is super exciting and there has been a lot to do to keep up with everything. The government has made many accommodations to allow for companies to do things differently during this time, but they still need to follow the rules.”

Like the rest of us, Axelrod has had to work to keep up with the constantly changing rules and standards, regularly adjusting advice to keep up and address new or modified requirements. In addition, Alexrod has also had to adjust to the challenges of working from home.

“It’s been strange not seeing my team or my clients face to face… but the work hasn’t stopped. I feel lucky for that. I am, however, a little tired of Zoom meetings, but at least I can wear pajama pants (shhhhh… don’t tell anyone)!” 

Despite the current environment, she stresses how important her work has been during this time.

“It’s always been meaningful working in this field, but in some ways, it has become even more vital during this time. Access to medical products during the pandemic has been so important, and the fact that my firm is a part of the process reminds me of why I do what I do”.

Axelrod stressed how grateful she is for her job and the people with whom she works.

“The reality is I love my job, I love my firm, I love my team, I love my clients, and I’m so honored to work in this space, where I am part of the effort to support the healthcare community and improve patient care. This has held especially true during this difficult time as we all work towards (hopefully) the light at the end of the tunnel.”