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Syringe Maker Hired Convicted Killer

September 6, 2001

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. (AP) _ A doctor who was convicted in 1991 of trying to murder his wife and stripped of his medical license landed a job with a major pharmaceutical company and worked there for three years because it failed to do a background check.

BD, formerly known as Becton Dickinson, said it fired Dr. Seymour I. Schlager in July after a routine credential check revealed he had made ``several misrepresentations″ when he was hired in 1998, spokeswoman Camilla Jenkins said. The company is the world’s largest syringe maker.

``We didn’t catch something that we should have caught,″ Jenkins said in Thursday’s New York Times. She declined further comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

BD was not alone, the newspaper found, even though Schlager’s case was widely publicized in Chicago and information on him was readily available on the Internet.

Bradley Pharmaceuticals of Fairfield appointed Schlager to its board after BD hired him. Chairman Daniel Glassman said Schlager resigned in July, the day after the company learned of his conviction.

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins in 1998 published a doctor’s manual written by Schlager. The Philadelphia-based publisher was unaware until contacted by the Times of his conviction and his suspended medical license, spokeswoman Connie Hofmann said.

An outside expert BD hired to examine Schlager’s work, including data from clinical trials he directed, found no problems, Jenkins said. Franklin Lakes-based BD did not identify the products he oversaw.

The Food and Drug Administration said it is working with the company to make sure Schlager’s data did not mislead the agency as it approved new products.

Schlager, 52, of Franklin Lakes, has an unlisted number and could not be reached Thursday for comment. He told the newspaper that he had not misrepresented himself and said he was not fired, but left BD for personal reasons.

``BD was lucky to have me,″ Schlager said. ``I was the best medical director they had in 20 years.″ He called his conviction ``a singular, one-time event in my life that does not have any impact on my work.″

At the time of the offense, Schlager earned a six-figure salary as an AIDS researcher at pharmaceutical maker Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago, according to court records.

He was living in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, in a house on a golf course, with his wife, Diane, and their two children.

Schlager, then about 40, was involved in an affair with a 24-year-old assistant. They are now married.

In 1991, Schlager tried to smother his wife with a plastic-covered pillow. His lawyer argued that the stress from his career and efforts to end the affair led to a nervous breakdown, and that he did not intend to kill his wife.

Schlager was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He was paroled in 1997.

___

On the Net:

Becton Dickinson: http://www.bd.com

Federal appeals court ruling:

http://www.kentlaw.edu/7circuit/1997/may/95-2391.html

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