Richard L. Plotkin, 74, of Scotch Plains died Sept. 4, 2019. He was born in Newark and raised in Maplewood.
Mr. Plotkin began his career as a commercial litigator with the law firm of Pitney, Hardin & Kipp, which later became Day Pitney LLP. Throughout his career, he was frequently cited for his contributions to the legal community of New Jersey and was recognized by publications such as Best Lawyers and New Jersey Super Lawyers. He was also a businessman and real estate investor.
He attended Columbia High School in Maplewood. He graduated from the Wharton School of Finance of the University of Pennsylvania, where he played varsity lacrosse, with a degree in economics in 1966. He enrolled at Georgetown University School of Law in 1969.
In 2007 his grandson Max was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 4. In 2008, he retired from the practice of law and cofounded the Max Cure Foundation, a 501(c)(3) pediatric cancer foundation, with his family. As the executive vice chair, he immersed himself in MCF’s mission and oversaw its day-to-day execution, which involved funding research; financially assisting low-income and military families battling cancer in their children; and advocating for children with cancer and their families. Among other accomplishments, he was credited with having singlehandedly caused the issuance by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of the first compassionate use waiver for a child with cancer of a combination drug therapy consisting of an experimental drug and two drugs that had already received FDA approval and were in the marketplace.
He spoke at Harvard Medical School and Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School and was interviewed by national news outlets. He was appointed by New York University Langone Medical Center’s Bioethics Department as the national pediatric cancer representative for existing federal regulations on experimental drugs for children. He was on a panel at a New York Academy of Science Colloquium and was consulted by Congress on proposed legislation dealing with expanded access/compassionate use.
He was credited with playing a major role in the passage of the 2012 Creating Hope Act, which incentivizes pharmaceutical companies to invest in developing drugs for children with rare diseases. His advocacy efforts were the subject of many articles in leading publications, and he was also appointed to a committee under President Barack Obama’s administration to further advance efforts to help the cause of childhood cancer.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Patricia Keefe; his daughter, Geralyn (Elliott) Kerven; two sons, David (Annemarie) and Matthew (Amanda); two stepdaughters, Meghan (Keith) Jacobson and Melissa Tirone; and 11 grandchildren.
Services were held Sept. 8 with arrangements by Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, Livingston. Memorial contributions may be made to the Max Cure Foundation.