Statement for the Annual Meeting, May 10, 2005
Presented by: Sr. Corinne Florek,
Adrian Dominican Sisters
Good morning, Mr. Martin (CEO), Mr. Denny (Chair of the Board), directors and
shareholders. I am Sister Corinne Florek, a member of the Adrian Dominicans
and Catholic Healthcare West, sponsors of the resolution which asks for a report
from the board of directors on the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the business
of Gilead Sciences. I come here today to commend our company and to challenge
Salih booker of African Action says, "AIDS is now acknowledged as the worst plague humankind has ever faced. Years from now people will ask about AIDS, as in the holocaust, 'How could they have known and failed to act?'"
We all know the statistics: millions living with HIV; millions dying of AIDS; whole villages of orphans. How can we know this and fail to act?
The Adrian Dominicans are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of 275 faith-based institutional investors who are asking leading pharmaceutical companies to make their life-saving drugs more accessible in developing countries. We are pleased to be shareholders of Gilead Sciences, a biotechnology company that lists as one of its priorities, to be a leader in the fight against the global HIV epidemic.
The global community is at a crossroads in expanding access to HIV treatment and care. Never before have the opportunities been so great:
- unprecedented political will in countries;
- unprecedented financial resources to fund treatment, care and support;
- and unprecedented affordability of medicines and diagnostics.
Despite these extraordinary positive conditions, access to antiretroviral treatment remains abysmally low. In sub-Saharan Africa, 310,000 people out of 25.4 million were receiving treatment in December 2004.
How can we know this and fail to act?
Gilead Sciences acted on April 25, when our company announced its first-ever license for generic production of Truvada and Viread which will be distributed in the 95 resource-limited countries included in Gilead's Global Access Program, and in every country in Africa. We applaud Gilead Sciences for this action. We call on our company to make this the first of many licenses, and to act quickly to register its drugs in qualified developing countries.
In 2003, 2.5 million children had HIV/AIDS. Children who are victims of this disease are compelled to take crushed adult doses of medications resulting in questionable dose accuracy, or take foul tasting liquids, which in older children require copious amounts to ensure dose requirements. How can we know this and fail to act? We call on Gilead Sciences to use its core competencies to respond to the need for research into pediatric formulations for HIV/AIDS medicines.
Our shareholder resolution asks Gilead Sciences to act by reviewing our company's business strategy, particularly the economic effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and its initiatives to date, and to report to all shareholders within six months.
In closing, we renew our call for dialogue with our company. As faith-based investors, we are looking for more than money as a return on our investment in Gilead Sciences. We want our company to be a company that knows the terrible human and economic consequences of this pandemic, and is a leader in responding to this plague ravaging our human family.