There’s a downside to having the world’s highest earning drug in the portfolio. And AbbVie CEO and chairman Richard Gonzalez would be able to tell you all about it.
AbbVie’s $20 billion in revenue from Humira last year has earned high level criticism from US Senators of both parties for a compensation package tied to rising Humira revenue, a long running court battle over the “patent thicket” it’s used to extend its defense against generics until possibly 2023 and now a shareholder flank attack on corporate governance.
Seth Magaziner, the state treasurer for Rhode Island and fiduciary of the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island Pooled Trust — an AbbVie shareholder — voiced his support for a split between the chairman’s role and the CEO post. That’s for after Gonzalez’s run, when a new chief takes over.
After noting the recent controversy over Humira, Magaziner says:
An independent Chair, with no business or employment ties to Abbvie, is vital to ensuring that difficult questions are asked of management, when necessary, and to ensure that decisions are made in the best long-term interests of the company and of shareholders, including the members of the Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island.
No doubt Gonzalez would prefer to see out his stint at the helm without headaches, but it’s small cost for managing the world’s biggest bestseller.
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