Statement for Eli Lilly Meeting
Mr. Chair, Members of the Board, Shareholders:
Bon Secours Health System, Christus Health, Catholic Health Initiatives, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, and the Adrian Dominican Sisters, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, have sponsored Item #4, which asks that the Board establish a policy of separating the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer so that an independent director who has not served as an executive officer of the company serves as Chair of the Board of Directors.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility is a coalition of faith-based institutional investors working for peace, justice and stewardship of Earth since 1971. ICCR members control over $100 billion in collective assets. Over the past decade ICCR members have worked to increase access to medicines and to protect shareholder value by encouraging reform in the pharmaceutical industry.
We believe separation of the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive is sound corporate governance practice. An independent Board Chair will facilitate the primary purpose of the Board to protect shareholders’ interests by providing independent oversight of management and by providing strategic direction and guidance to our Company. We are convinced that an independent board structure will enhance the Board’s ability to address the complex policy issues facing our Company, foremost among them the crisis in access to pharmaceutical products in this country and around the globe.
Please be assured, Mr. White, our proposal is not a referendum on your leadership of the company. We observe that accessibility and affordability of health care and prescription drugs continues to be a crisis for all sectors of society: Medicare D has not resolved the issue of rising costs of drugs for governments which are responsible for funding public programs such as Medicaid, employers with large pension benefits programs, and individuals. Quality of health care in the United States is directly related to income, an injustice we believe must be addressed by all sectors of society, including the pharmaceutical industry, and must be addressed beyond programs for the indigent such as patient assistance programs.
We observe the newly enacted Massachusetts health insurance legislation as a signal of society’s desire to address this malady.
We observe the industry as heavily dependent on direct to consumer advertising, lobbying of public officials and undisclosed/unclear pricing mechanisms. How long can that model continue as our society moves to address health disparity?
Looking forward, it is our perspective that separation of the roles of Chair and CEO will better position Eli Lilly to be a positive force in the quest to assure universal access to life-saving medicines. We urge support for Item 4.