Religious Investment Coalition Calls on Drug Companies To Report Details of AIDS Charity Work to Shareholders
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a consortium of religious investors, has introduced shareholder resolutions aimed at four pharmaceutical companies, calling on the drug makers to assess charity programs they have created in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries and report on how HIV/AIDS might affect their businesses, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports. The consortium, which is working with about 30 religious groups, wants Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Abbott Laboratories to consider offering shareholders a report on the topics six months after their annual meetings, according to Dow Jones/Journal. "Religious shareholders are working together as never before to get drug companies to do a better job responding to the HIV pandemic," Rev. Seamus Finn, chair of the group's HIV/AIDS caucus, said. Although the group is also concerned with the companies' efforts to combat tuberculosis and malaria in developing countries, it has brought HIV/AIDS to the forefront because "HIV will drive institutional-investor attention," according to Finn. The boards of Pfizer, Merck and Abbott oppose the ICCR proposals, according to proxy statements submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dow Jones/Journal reports. BMS has not yet filed a proxy statement, and BMS officials were not available for comment, according to Dow Jones/Journal. Although the four pharmaceutical companies have "numerous" charitable programs to combat the disease, ICCR said that the companies have not "gone far enough," according to Dow Jones/Journal. Only about 4% of individuals who need antiretroviral drugs and other HIV/AIDS treatments have access to them, ICCR said (Hovey, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 3/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.