Put off by what they see as exorbitant pay for Mylan executives, some big pension funds are attempting to block the re-election of a number of board members, including Chairman and former CEO Robert Coury, who received $100 million last year.
They say huge paychecks were awarded to executives as backlash from consumers and the U.S. government escalated over prices Mylan (MYL) charged for its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment.
Lawmakers challenged Mylan last year for its EpiPen pricing, which has climbed more than 500 percent since 2007. CVS is now selling a rival, generic version of EpiPen at about a sixth of the price of the brand-name version of the life-saving medicine.
The New York City and New York State comptrollers both signed a letter sent to shareholders, as did a representative of the California State Teachers' Retirement System and PGGM, a Dutch pension fund.
The institutional investment funds say they want Mylan NV, whose U.S. headquarters are based just outside of Pittsburgh, held accountable for a "costly record of compensation, risk and compliance failures."
Mylan said in an emailed statement Wednesday that its board has overseen a consistent strategy that creates long-term value for its shareholders. It noted that the company's market capitalization has swelled to more than $20 million from about $3 billion over the past 15 years, and its stock price also has soared over the longer time frame.
"During Mr. Coury's long tenure, Mylan has delivered strong financial performance and shareholder growth, and his new compensation structure continues to be aligned with the (company's) stock performance while providing shareholders with the benefit of his continued leadership and guidance in setting Mylan's strategic direction," the company said.
Shares are up four-fold since 2002, but the harsh spotlight over spiking drug prices has taken a toll.
In the past 12 months, a period of time that includes the appearance before Congress of current CEO Heather Bresch to explain Mylan's decision to hike prices on some drugs, shares have fallen 10 percent. Shares have fallen more than 6 percent in the three months leading up to the annual shareholders meeting that takes place in three weeks.
Shares are still up slightly for the year, however.
The pension funds noted in their letter that Bresch and President Rajiv Malik both received annual bonuses that exceeded their base salaries for last year, but the company "suffered significant reputational and financial harm."
The funds claim control of about 4.3 million Mylan shares.
Shares of Mylan slipped 23 cents to $39.13 in early trading, with all major U.S. markets trading down on rising political turmoil.