LOS ANGELES - AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization and a vocal critic of runaway drug pricing and drug profiteering, criticized Gilead Sciences, the leading HIV/AIDS drug maker, and its CEO John Martin for continuing their practice of pillaging U.S. taxpayers as a means to fund the company’s unbridled corporate gluttony. AHF’s condemnation comes as USA Today reports that Gilead Sciences’ CEO John Martin “…pulled in compensation valued at nearly $180 million in 2013, including stock option gains worth $158 million.” USA Today also wrote, “In what's shaping up as a year of oversized paydays for chief executives, Gilead Sciences CEO John Martin has emerged as one of 2013's biggest winners.”
However, Gilead is also now facing a proxy vote in May on a shareholder proposal titled, “Patient Access as a Criterion of Executive Compensation,” for consideration for shareholder vote in conjunction with the company’s 2014 Annual Meeting. The proposal, submitted last year by Michael Weinstein, a Gilead shareholder and president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would tie executive compensation at Gilead to the affordability and availability of its lifesaving medications. The USA Today article tied Martin’s pay package to the pending shareholder vote, writing:
“Martin's incentive awards have drawn criticism from investor Michael Weinstein, who says the company should adopt an incentive plan for Martin that would include non-financial measures, such as how many uninsured and underinsured patients are able to obtain Gilead's medications, including HIV treatments.
“Shareholders will vote on Weinstein's proposal at Gilead's annual meeting May 7. Gilead's board wants the proposal rejected. It says half the U.S. patients on Gilead's HIV drugs get them at discounted prices.”
Both news of Weinstein’s shareholder resolution and Martin’s excessive compensation package comes on the heels of the FDA’s December approval—and Gilead pricing—of its new Hepatitis C treatment, Sovaldi, at $1,000 per pill ($84K for a twelve-week course of treatment), a price certain to wreak havoc with hard-hit government programs like Medicaid, Medicare, the V.A. and other programs.
“The most fitting word to describe John Martin’s compensation package from Gilead is obscene. I am grateful that the SEC shot down Gilead’s repeated attempts to block my shareholder resolution from getting on Gilead’s proxy ballot this May, and look forward to having shareholders weigh in on this issue,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “The largest single purchaser of drugs in the U.S. is the government. Gilead marks up the commercial price to obscene levels in order to mark it down to preposterous levels for the government payers, gouging U.S. taxpayers in order to pay its executives excessive salaries and compensation. Between the gouging and the compensation, it’s simply obscene.”