Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Ducks Question About Political Meddling in Drug Pricing at Annual Shareholder Meeting

CEOs are Hesitant to Speak Out On Political Matters Affecting their Industries, Says Health Policy Analyst Dr. David Hogberg

Who Wants to Risk an IRS Audit or Worse?

Plainsboro, NJ/Washington DC – Asked at his company’s annual shareholder meeting whether the federal government is sufficiently fostering an environment for drug innovation, Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Lamberto Andreotti largely ducked the question.

Andretti was responding to a question from David Hogberg, Ph.D. of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who asked, in part:

In March, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking member on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote a letter to Gilead Science’s CEO and demanded a justification of the company’s pricing, among other inquiries….

And according to an article in Life Science Leader, Express Scripts “urged its insurance and employer clients to join a coalition to stop prescribing Sovaldi, a breakthrough for Hepatitis C, once competitor products hit the market,” unless Gilead drops its price….

… considering that President Obama backed a dual-eligibles rebate plan in his 2013 State of the Union Address and now a ranking member of Congress is openly attacking a lifesaving drug over its pricing, do you think enough is being done in Washington, D.C. to foster an environment for drug innovation here in the United States? What more would you like to see done?

Andreotti replied:

Thank you. I will say we are not [going to] comment on a product or a product of another company or what [that] price says about that company or that product. As far as we are concerned, we are very convinced that we are pricing our medicines in a very fair way, based on a number of factors that include the value it delivers to patients and use society, and in scientific innovation that is included in this. We’re investing big money and risk in the development of our innovative pharmaceuticals and we believe that pricing should give you, the owners of our company, a return on those investments.

But at the same time, we also are very aware of the very big benefits we are delivering for patients and communities through improvements in treating diseases. So, we need as a company, as an industry, to continue to speak about this very openly and more. There will be always, based on the price, conflict between us and the payers; us and the decision-makers. I think that when we can have the opportunity of explaining our case, explaining what we are delivering, we can have our counterparts reach an understanding.

So, we will continue to work at: 1) developing our innovation, 2) pricing that innovation fairly, and 3) making our different counterparts in this country and elsewhere, aware of the value we are delivering and we will continue the dialogue.

“Andreotti’s answer was very telling in that it avoided all mention of politicians meddling in the pricing of pharmaceuticals,” said Hogberg. “It reflects poorly on the current environment that President Obama and others in Washington have created that CEOs are hesitant to speak out on political matters affecting their industry. Which CEO wants to risk an IRS audit or worse by pushing back against their Washington overlords?”

An audio recording of the exchange is here.

A copy of David Hogberg’s question, as prepared for delivery, is here.

David Hogberg is one of the nation’s leading health care policy analysts, and a frequent media commentator on health care issues. So far in 2014, he has been a TV or radio guest 85 times, and been cited by newspapers over 100 times. Various publications by Dr. Hogberg are available here, and his March 11 testimony at the U.S. Senate on the problems with government-run health care systems can be viewed here.

David Hogberg appeared at the Humana meeting representing National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour, a Humana shareholder.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is a leading free-market corporate activist group. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many other important public policy issues. The National Center has attended 24 shareholder meetings so far in 2014.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.