Publication: The Purdue Pharmacist
Michael McMains (BS 1981)
Mike McMains graduated from Purdue University in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy. The grandson of Indiana farmers and the son of a Monon Railroad clerk and telegrapher, Mike was the first in his family to attend college when he entered Purdue in the fall of 1975.
“Looking back on life-defining moments, it is fair to say that attending Purdue University changed the course of my life, the lives of my children, and the lives of my children’s children,” says Mike.
Mike’s career path has been anything but typical. Armed with a pharmacy degree, Mike had a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry before entering law school in his early 30s. He later founded McMains LaPointe, Indianapolis, one of Indiana’s most successful law firms focused on healthcare, pharmaceutical and emerging healthcare/life science technology.
Persistence Pays Off
With his parent’s enthusiastic encouragement, Mike enrolled at Purdue as a chemistry major and later applied to the School of Pharmacy. A member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club, the Freshman Council, and University Senate, Mike committed up to 30 hours a week to extracurricular activities. The School denied him admission because his “B” average was below their threshold for transferring students. Not easily deterred, Mike met with the deans, explained his academic and leadership aspirations, and gained admission.
“My years at Purdue challenged me to strive for professional and academic excellence, and through extracurricular activities I learned the value of discipline and character both in myself and in others,” comments Mike.
At Purdue, Mike went on to preside over the Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill, and he played a leadership role at the Farmhouse Fraternity. He began a chemical research internship with Eli Lilly and Company. It was at this time that Mike began a job of another sort, that of husband, when he and his childhood sweetheart, Cheryl Meyer, a Purdue nursing student, married. They lived in Purdue married student housing while he finished pharmacy school.
Following graduation, Mike began his career with Eli Lilly and Company as a pharmaceutical sales rep selling antibiotics, insulin, and cardiovascular medications to doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals in the Lafayette area.
Over the years, he held a variety of positions in medical and regulatory affairs, international market research, and domestic marketing studies.
A lover of learning, Mike always wanted to return to school for an advanced degree, but frequent transfers with Eli Lilly made that dream difficult to realize.
Then, in his early 30s, Mike was on a flight from San Francisco to Indianapolis and picked up a business magazine to pass the time. He read an article about the secret to a happy life and took the message to heart. He thought hard: if he had the time, energy, and money, what would he do? He wrote down the answer on a piece of paper and put it in his wallet, where it remains today: he would go to law school.
With two children and one on the way, Mike and his wife, Cheryl, decided that Mike would take a leave of absence from Eli Lilly to concentrate on his studies. Mike applied to Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis where once again he was denied admission. This would come as a blow to some, but not to Mike. He sat outside the dean’s office until she left for the day and engaged her in a conversation about why he should be admitted to law school. He continued to remind her every two weeks for months and was admitted the next year.
The dean would not regret her decision. At Indiana University School of Law Mike flourished. He was executive editor of the Indiana International Law Review, was elected student body president, received the Most Outstanding Senior Service Award, and delivered the graduation commencement address. He received his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, in 1993.
During law school, Mike clerked at a law firm and found that he enjoyed the environment. He made the difficult decision not to return to Eli Lilly and ventured onto a new path of practicing health, pharmacy, and business law for Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C. Mike’s practice filled quickly because of his many contacts in the pharmacy and physician communities.
Soon, Mike founded his own firm and the firm flourished. Over the years he also founded or has been a part of the formation of seven other start-up companies. He continues to hold an equity interest in five of them. These businesses range from pharmaceutical, medical device, and commercial real estate businesses to a company that owns wireless frequency FCC licenses across the country.
Mike decided to pass his love of learning onto others and began teaching. He serves as a non-paid adjunct professor of law at Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences where he teaches in the doctor of pharmacy program. He also just completed his 11th year as an adjunct professor of law at the Indiana University School of Law—Indianapolis, where he received the Outstanding Law Professor Award in 1998 and 1999.
Additionally, he is an affiliate assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice at Purdue University, for which he doesn’t accept payment. As part of that program, he invites different senior pharmacy students to spend a month at his law firm allowing them to experience what it is like to practice in the area of health, food, and drug law.
Mike serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, he has participated in the Dean’s Executive Forum and presented a keynote address at the White Coat Ceremony wherein Purdue’s pharmacy students are inducted into the profession, according to John Pezzuto, former dean of the School of Pharmacy.
“Mike has been a good friend and colleague, and a highly valued member of the Purdue family. We are very proud of his many accomplishments since the time he graduated with his pharmacy degree.”
“I call on Mike a great deal for his advice and his legal opinions regarding advancing the profession,” says Steve Abel, Bucke Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Purdue University. “But what I enjoy most is seeing how he interacts with his students. He is very candid and tells them about the bumps in the road he has encountered. For someone so accomplished, Mike is very down to earth, and the students really respect him for that.”
When teaching, Mike uses many of the same techniques he learned from his favorite professor at Purdue, Frank Murphy, an instructor in pharmacy communications. Mike fondly remembers how Frank stressed the importance of never giving up. Every year on Mike’s birthday, he received a letter from Frank, right up to the year Frank died. Mike has kept them all.
In that spirit, Mike is a life member of the Purdue Alumni Association, a member of the Purdue University President’s Council, and a member of the John Purdue Club. Mike also serves on the Pharmacy Campaign Cabinet for Purdue.
Mike and his wife have endowed an annual scholarship for a Purdue nursing or pharmacy student. Professionally, Mike is a member of the National Health Lawyers Association, the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance, the American Society for Pharmacy Law, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the American Bar Association, the Indianapolis Bar Association, and the Indiana Bar Association.
He has published a number of articles in the Journal of the Indiana Pharmacists Association as well as other publications. He also is Vice President of the Indiana Leadership Forum and President of Indian Creek Elementary School PFO.
The Tradition Continues
With two Purdue graduates in the family (Cheryl received her associate’s degree in nursing and a bachelor’s degree in community health), where else would the three McMains children go to school? Son Craig is a senior at Purdue, majoring in pre-med. Daughter Kelly is in the School of Nursing and daughter Kristi, a junior at Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, is planning to attend Purdue in a few years.