July 25 (Reuters) - U.S. state treasurers from Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia on Tuesday urged drug distributor McKesson Corp to appoint an independent chair and link executive pay with progress in combating opioid epidemic.
The state treasurers in a letter also asked the company to take stock of the role it played in contributing to opioid abuse. (http://bit.ly/2uxBAmk)
"Should no action be taken, each treasurer's office would re-evaluate its financial position in the San Francisco-based company and strongly encourage other institutional investors to do the same," the treasurers said. (http://bit.ly/2uWtkP5)
The treasurers did not disclose their stake in the company.
McKesson, which will hold its annual general meeting on Wednesday, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The letter follows criticism from International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who earlier this month urged shareholders to vote against executive pay practices after McKesson's CEO and chairman, John Hammergren, was paid more than $20 million for the year ended March 31.
Earlier this year, the company paid a record $150 million to resolve a probe into whether the drug distributor failed to report suspicious orders of addictive painkillers.
Opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers and heroin, killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
Several West Virginia counties have filed lawsuits in recent months against McKesson and its rivals Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen for failing to report suspicious orders of opioids in the state. (Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)