Faith investors back coalition to press opioid manufacturers and distributors for greater accountability

Oct 30th 2017

In response to public health crisis, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility join state, city and union funds representing $1.3 trillion to call for improved oversight at major U.S. opioid manufacturers and distributors. 

NEW YORK, NY, MONDAY, OCTOBER 30TH, 2017 - Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) today joined other concerned investors in announcing a new investor coalition, formed in response to the opioid crisis gripping our nation. 

Investors for Opioid Accountability (IOA) comprises 30 treasurers, asset managers, faith-based, public and labor funds with over $1.3 trillion in assets. The group has announced that it is filing multiple shareholder proposals on board oversight of business risks related to opioid misuse at 10 opioid distributor and manufacturing companies. 

ICCR members, many representing faith-based organizations including health systems, have a long history of engagements with pharma and other healthcare companies on multiple concerns related to corporate responsibility. Because they believe opioid manufacturers and distributors have played a clear role in exacerbating the addiction crisis, they are joining their voices with those of other impacted funds to call for improved governance structures at these companies to help mitigate the risks of opioid abuse. 

Said Katie McCloskey, Director, Social Responsibility at United Church Funds, “Faith-based investors have a particular concern with the opioid epidemic. Our clients are clergy members, churches and mission-oriented organizations that are more and more challenged to minister to families being torn apart by opioids. United Church Funds believes that it is important for pharmaceutical companies to examine their role in the creation and continuation of the epidemic and to revise their policies and practices to stem this horrendous tide.” 

The companies scheduled to receive shareholder resolutions from the IOA coalition are opioid manufacturers Depomed, Endo, Insys, Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, Mylan and Pernix and opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson.

“The opioid epidemic’s devastating effect on our country includes enormous stress on our healthcare system,” said John Starcher, President and CEO of Mercy Health. “Health providers must balance providing these medicines to those who truly need them with proper monitoring to prevent inappropriate use. In addition to the record number of deaths, in 2014 alone, nonfatal unintentional drug poisoning accounted for 420,000 emergency department visits and 260,000 hospitalizations, putting a strain on healthcare facilities nationwide. This public health crisis demands a meaningful response from all organizations with any capacity to influence change.”

Said Sr. Judy Byron of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, “The crisis in opioid addiction our nation is experiencing was years in the making and it will require consistent and collective action on the part of many stakeholders to resolve. We are motivated to work alongside other members of the IOA to ensure that implicated companies are doing everything within their power to control opioid misuse because we know many lives are at stake.” 

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 46th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $400 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability.