Over 70% of independent AmerisourceBergen shares were voted with Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden, in opposition to the board's proposed multi-million-dollar payout to CEO Steven Collis at the company's annual meeting on March 11, 2021. Investor concern regarding the lack of accountability at the company for its role in the opioid crisis was demonstrated by the record low support, with 85,990,782 shares cast against the board's proposed executive compensation package.
Last month, Treasurer Magaziner and Treasurer Wooden filed a letter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, urging investors to vote against proposed payouts at AmerisourceBergen which would insulate executives from any financial impact related to the company's $6.6 billion charge tied to its role in the nation's opioid crisis.
"The opioid epidemic has impacted thousands of families across Rhode Island," said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. "This shareholder vote at AmerisourceBergen's annual meeting, with a record number of investors rejecting the excessive pay-out for Mr. Collis, is a clear signal that investors want more accountability at the company and that corporate executives should not be financially insulated from the societal damage caused by a company's business practices."
"Executives shouldn't be rewarded when a company and its shareholders take such a big hit, nor should they profit off of an American tragedy that devastated millions of families and cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion over the last two decades," said Connecticut Treasurer Wooden. "This vote sends a powerful message that now and, in the future, shareholders expect and demand greater accountability from companies."
The AmerisourceBergen vote is the latest in a series of actions that Treasurer Magaziner has taken to strengthen accountability at pharmaceutical companies.
In October of 2020, Treasurers Magaziner and Wooden led an effort to oppose an executive compensation proposal at Cardinal Heath, following that company's role in Opioid distribution practices.
In December 2020, Treasurer Magaziner also co-filed a shareholder proposal at Gilead, maker of remdesivir - the only antiviral drug approved by the U.S. FDA to treat cases of COVID-19 - following Gilead's recent decision to unethically price remdesevir at more than 500 times its production cost. The proposal would strengthen oversight of the company by requiring an independent Chair of the Board of Directors.
Treasurer Wooden and Treasurer Magaziner are each members of Investors for Opioid and Pharmaceutical Accountability (IOPA), a coalition of 61 investors representing more than $4.2 trillion in combined assets under management, focusing on engagement with manufacturers and distributors of opioids and other pharmaceuticals.