Shareholders of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. on Tuesday voted down a shareholder proposal to publicly report on its handling of laboratory animals and to seek other ways to test experimental drugs, while animal rights activists demonstrated outside the drugmaker's annual meeting.
Shareholders gathered inside a Bristol-Myers sales and administration office building in Plainsboro, N.J., also voted along with the company's recommendations on another shareholder proposal, election of board members and other issues.
The activist group PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had sponsored a resolution on use of animals, claiming that Bristol-Myers in the past three years has used more than 20,000 animals, including about 6,000 dogs and primates, in experiments, many of them painful.
The group claims that in a case last July, a lab monkey was killed when it was accidentally left in a locked cage being cleaned in near-boiling water. A Bristol-Myers spokeswoman later said the company had reported the accident to federal officials and was investigating.
Shareholders arriving at the meeting were greeted by four members of PETA, two of them holding up monkey masks and the others holding up signs reading, "BMS is hell for animals" and "Monkey scalded to death in BMS labs."
According to preliminary vote totals provided by the company, only 4 percent of shareholder votes favored the proposal to require an annual report to stockholders on procedures to ensure proper animal care and plans to promote alternatives to testing of animals. Another 75 percent of shares were cast against the resolution and 21 percent abstained.
On a second shareholder proposal, 61 percent of votes cast opposed a proposal to allow shareholders with a minimum number of votes to vote in writing on issues between annual meetings. Proposal sponsor Kenneth Steiner of Great Neck, N.Y., noted in a statement that "hundreds of major companies" allow such written consent by shareholders.
On other issues, at least 89 percent of votes cast supported each of the 12 directors nominated for Bristol's board, 97 percent approved Deloitte & Touche LLP as Bristol's accounting firm, and 91 percent voted for the company's 2012 stock award and incentive plan for managers, other employees and board members.
Meanwhile, 95 percent voted in an advisory "say-on-pay" provision to approve the compensation of top executives.
CEO Lamberto Andreotti received total 2011 compensation of $14.9 million, followed by Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Elliott Sigal at $9.03 million, according to Bristol's proxy statement. Four other executives each got well over $5 million last year in combined salary, stock awards, bonuses and pension payments.
Linda A. Johnson can be followed at http://twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma