Opioid abuse causes more than 42,000 deaths in the U.S. each year — 115 people per day. ICCR has joined Investors for Opioid Accountability (IOA), a diverse coalition of investors including 44 state and city funds, asset managers and labor funds with over $2.2 billion in assets, to address the roles companies can play in helping to end this public health crisis. The IOA is co-led by Mercy Investment Services and the UAW Retirement Medical Benefits Trust.
Through a group of resolutions, members of the IOA are asking opioid manufacturers and distributors as well as the makers of overdose antidotes to report on the risk oversight measures they have in place to counter the epidemic. While challenged by most companies, the SEC has ruled in our favor and these resolutions will appear on company ballots at the annual meetings and be voted on by shareholders.
The IOA has several key wins already. Mallinckrodt Group has decided to divest its opioid business. Meanwhile, at the AmerisourceBergen annual meeting on March 2nd, 62% of independent shareholders voted in favor of the IOA's resolution requesting a board report calling for accountability on opioid risk.
What Investors are Saying:
Meredith Miller, representing the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust and co-leader of the IOA, said, "The IOA is asking the independent directors of the boards of these companies to investigate how they are responding to increasing business and reputational risks related to opioids. IOA believes that good corporate governance practices that traditionally serve as risk mitigators are critical to implement going forward. Such provisions aim to increase board accountability through strengthened independent board leadership and compensation policies to deter misconduct."
Donna Meyer, representing Mercy Investment Services, and co-leader of the IOA, said, "We believe these companies have played an important role in this epidemic. Some of them push back and say that it needs to be the government that establishes the guidelines. We, of course, believe that they have the knowledge and the wherewithal to establish these guidelines."