LAS VEGAS--()--AIDS protesters and advocates targeted Gilead Sciences and its CEO John Martin with three days of protests and actions at the United Stated Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Las Vegas over the steep pricing of Gilead’s latest AIDS treatment, Stribild—priced at $28,000 per patient, per year in early September after FDA-approval of the drug—which came on the heels of the news that CEO Martin earned $54.5 million in his most recently reported annual compensation from Gilead, an amount that landed him tenth on Forbes’ List of highest paid CEOs in the United States. Martin joined CEOs for Disney, Occidental Petroleum and Starbucks in an elite club of top executive earners.
“It’s outrageous for Gilead’s CEO to be one of the highest paid executives in the nation, making tens of millions of dollars by selling lifesaving medications at such high prices that more than 2,000 Americans in desperate need of medications cannot access them”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) spearheaded the protests at the conference, which ends today and according to the website of conference host, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), “…is the largest annual AIDS-related gathering in the U.S., bringing together thousands of workers from all fronts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic—from case managers and physicians, to public health workers and advocates, people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) to policymakers—to build national support networks, exchange the latest information and learn cutting-edge tools to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
“On Sunday we effectively shut down the Gilead booth that was promoting Stribild when we surrounded it, chanting and doing a ‘die in.’ The response from conference attendees was pretty positive, as many of them photographed the action and took the John Martin $1,000 bills that we handed out. We had some attendees join in our protest holding signs and chanting with us,” said Joey Terrill Director of Community Mobilization for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “On Monday, we changed our strategy protesting and returning after twenty minutes or so effectively ‘chasing’ playing this ‘cat-and-mouse’ game. We also marched with signs around their other booth, which was not Stribild-specific, spreading out our advocacy action to another central location in the exhibition hall. All this was part of our overall effort to highlight and shame Gilead for the huge wealth that John Martin is accumulating by gouging government programs—the largest purchaser of pharmaceuticals—for their AIDS drug pricing and policies exemplified by the astronomical $28,000 price of Stribild.”
Each day at the protests, AHF’s Terrill dressed as John Martin wearing a mask with his likeness. Terrill was joined by dozens of others from AHF and other AIDS groups around the U.S. at the actions sporting a mix of handwritten signs, banners with the $1,000 John Martin bill and handing out smaller versions of the bill with information about the group’s concerns printed on the back.
“It’s outrageous for Gilead’s CEO to be one of the highest paid executives in the nation, making tens of millions of dollars by selling lifesaving medications at such high prices that more than 2,000 Americans in desperate need of medications cannot access them,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF’s President. “People living with HIV/AIDS, their families, friends and communities should be up in arms over this sort of corporate greed in the face of life-or-death need. So too should taxpayers, who are almost directly responsible for placing wads of cash in Martin’s pockets. It’s the taxpayers who foot the bill for government health care programs—like state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs—a significant contributor to Gilead’s profit margin.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to more than 183,000 individuals in 27 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.
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