The New York City home and offices of former hedge fund manager Julian H. Robertson were targeted by protest groups in a series of simultaneous direct actions in early May. Robertson is ranked No. 512 on Forbes' list of "the world's billionaires" with a reported net worth of $3.4 billion. "Robertson is making a killing off of people with Hep C," read one sign.
The protests targeted high profile hedge fund investors who have reaped substantial profits from the California-based pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences. Hedge Clippers, a coalition of labor, community and social justice groups including VOCAL-NY, seeks to draw links between hedge funds and income inequality, mass imprisonment, climate change, health disparities, and other challenges. Gilead has been targeted because of what has been called "exorbitant" pricing for its groundbreaking new class of drugs that can cure hepatitis C virus (HCV), such as Sovaldi, and the enormous profits they have generated.
HCV infection "is the most common chronic blood borne infection in the United States [and] approximately 3.2 million persons are chronically infected," according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 150 million people around the globe are living with HCV -- disproportionately the poor, uninsured and incarcerated -- which in its advanced stages can cause cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Labels: activism, drug pricing, Hedge Clippers, hedge funds, protests