Alumni rising: Attorney Ruzziconi makes headlines in pharmaceuticals

Ryan Ruzziconi, photograph by Ryan Garza of Mod Pod Photo, courtesy of Crain's Detroit Business magazineIt is the type of negotiation that can define a career.

Across the table from industry giant Pfizer pharmaceutical, sat UW-Green Bay alumnus Ryan Ruzziconi, negotiating a market-changing contract for his company, Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, and making a name for himself as an award-winning attorney.

Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy sought to sell Lipitor through direct order to patients who order the cholesterol-lowering drug through the Pharmacy. Ruzziconi and his team spent five months over the summer of 2011 negotiating the contract and brought Lipitor to the mail order market in November of 2011.

Crains Award, Crains Detroit Business magazine

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Ruzziconi was later recognized for his efforts by Crain’s magazine, Detroit — receiving the business magazine’s top award for general counsel of a privately held company.

It was a pivotal time for both the pharmaceutical industry — the first time a major pharmaceutical drug maker contracted directly with a direct-order specialty pharmacy to sell its brand-name drugs to consumers at generic prices — and for Ruzziconi, a relatively young attorney in a fast-paced industry of pharmaceutical sales.

A year later, Ruzziconi laughs at the reference to his youth, but at the same time acknowledges that he’s one of only a few attorneys in their 30s in a general counsel role for a company that generates major revenue — more than a billion dollars annually.

“I don’t really feel that young,” he said, but I guess when I scan the room at business meetings, I am one of the only attorneys in my 30s,” joked the 1999 UW-Green Bay Public Administration and Political Science double major.

Ruzziconi was hired by Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy to initiate an in-house legal department, particularly when in came to matters of contracts, employment, and health care compliance. He wasn’t long on the job when the opportunity for trailblazing negotiation was added to his professional repertoire.

“The Pfizer contract was a long process, roughly five months or more of negotiation and contract drafting,” Ruzziconi explained. “The process was actually much more smooth than one would believe, as we were all trying to get to the same place, which was completing a contract and implementing a program which we believed would help patients and provide them with improved care. So it was much more of a natural progression toward a common goal.”

Still, looking back, Ruzziconi said he feels inspired by the work of his peers and enjoys the management side of corporate law.

“It has been a unique and challenging two-year journey, but the legal department now consists of multiple attorneys, paralegals, and project managers who work actively, not only to keep Diplomat Pharmacy’s legal function operating properly, but also to support the various business departments in keeping Diplomat Pharmacy as a leader in the specialty pharmacy industry,” he said.

The career path for the 36-year-old Ruzziconi has come full circle, at least from a geographical standpoint. With a hometown in Iron River, Michigan, he chose to attend UW-Green Bay because of the campus environment and location. The longer he stayed the more sure he was about his decision.

“The more time I spent on campus, the more comfortable I felt, and at that point I knew that attending UWGB was the right decision. I have some great memories of my time at UWGB,” he said. “I met some lifelong friends there, who really helped me grow as a person. The educational aspect was just as good. I always thought that I had some of the best professors in my majors at UWGB, even some of the best on a national scale. Since my majors were in Public Administration and Political Science, I was very fortunate to have professors such as Scott Furlong, Denise Scheberle and Dan Alesch.”

It was an internship in a Green Bay law firm (Hanaway Ross Weidner) that convinced Ruzziconi of his career path. He graduated from Marquette and worked for Tuchscherer Eckert and Wagman, of Wausau, before serving as assistant general counsel for Kolbe Windows and Doors. He was hired by Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy in Flint, Michigan in 2009.

His greatest satisfaction, he says, is to see a project from implementation to completion and the positive effect on patients and their quality of care.

— Ryan Ruzziconi photograph by Ryan Garza of Mod Pod Photo, courtesy of Crain’s Detroit Business magazine

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