NLPC Shareholder Proposal Challenges Pfizer’s Support of ObamaCare

Ian Read photoNLPC has filed a shareholder proposal challenging Pfizer’s support for ObamaCare. The resolution actually asks for a report on Pfizer’s lobbying priorities. Here is the supporting statement submitted to Pfizer for inclusion in the proxy:

Pfizer played a key role in the passage of ObamaCare, even though a majority of Americans were opposed. CEO Jeffrey Kindler organized pharmaceutical CEOs in support of the bill, promoted a massive advertising campaign, and partnered with Left-wing groups normally hostile to Pfizer’s interests. For these actions, he received a multi-million dollar bonus.

According to media reports, Pfizer and other companies in 2009 made an $80 billion deal with the Obama administration. In return for support of ObamaCare, the companies received promises of a guarantee of customers and insulation from certain kinds of competition. This kind of back room dealing corrupts the political process, generates public outrage, and is inappropriate for an institution like Pfizer that pledges itself to responsible corporate citizenship.

At last year’s annual meeting, I asked CEO Ian Read (in photo) if he would repudiate Pfizer’s ill-advised support for ObamaCare. It was a simple question. I did not receive an answer. Instead, Read offered obfuscation.

Read apparently believes he can duck responsibility for Pfizer’s role in passing ObamaCare, which is even more unpopular now than when it was passed. If Pfizer executives cannot answer simple questions posed by shareholders about the company’s lobbying, it is time for a more formal reporting mechanism.

Absent a system of reporting on how Pfizer develops and prioritizes its lobbying priorities, shareholders will be unable to evaluate the potential for future miscalculation and damage to the Pfizer brand name.

Here is the text of the resolution:

Pfizer’s primary responsibility is to create shareholder value. The Company should pursue legal and ethical means to achieve that goal, including identifying and advocating legislative and regulatory public policies that would advance Company interests and shareholder value in a transparent and lawful manner.

Resolved: The shareholders request the Board of Directors, at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, report to shareholders annually on the Company’s process for identifying and prioritizing legislative and regulatory public policy advocacy activities. The report should:

1. Describe the process by which the Company identifies, evaluates and prioritizes public policy issues of interest to the Company;

2. Identify and describe public policy issues of interest to the Company;

3. Prioritize the issues by importance to creating shareholder value; and

4. Explain the business rationale for prioritization.

The date of the Pfizer annual meeting has not been announced but is expected to be in late April.