New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, is using its shareholder leverage to lobby drug companies to lower prescription drug prices. State Comptroller H. Carl McCall, sole trustee of the $112 billion fund, sent a letter Monday to corporate officials at the states top 10 pharmaceutical holdings: Pfizer Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Merck & Co. Inc.; Wyeth; Eli Lilly & Co.; Abbott Laboratories; Pharmacia Corp.; Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; Schering Plough Corp.; and GlaxoSmithKline.
In the letter, Mr. McCall urged the companies to stop delaying introduction of generic drugs; stop spending massive amounts of money to develop new drugs only marginally better than the drugs they replace; and to reduce spending on lobbying, advertising and marketing. Mr. McCall said drug makers face litigation and regulation if they dont act on their own. Such action, he said, threatens the long-term performance of the companies stocks.