John C. Martin (businessman)

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John C. Martin
Born 1951 (age 65–66)
Easton, Pennsylvania[1]
Nationality American
Alma mater Purdue University, Golden Gate University, University of Chicago
Known for Antiviral therapeutics
Net worth US$1.09 billion (April 2017)[2]
Title Chairman, Gilead Sciences
Awards Biotechnology Heritage Award (2017)

John C. Martin (born 1951) is the executive chairman (2016-) and former CEO (1996-2016) of the American biotechnology company Gilead Sciences.[3][4] He joined Gilead Sciences in 1990 as Vice President for Research and Development.[5][1] In addition to helping developing other drugs such as Atripla (for HIV/AIDS), Martin led the team that developed Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) for the treatment of the liver virus hepatitis C. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Biotechnology Heritage Award (2017).


Martin earned his BS in chemical engineering from Purdue University,[3] an MBA in marketing from Golden Gate University and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago.[6] He serves on the Board of Trustees of the latter two universities.[6]


Martin focuses on the development of antiviral therapeutics. He has helped to develop drugs including ganciclovir, cidofovir, oseltamivir, adefovir, tenofovir, didanosine, stavudine, tenofovir, emtricitabine, Truvada, Atripla, Complera, Stribild and Sofosbuvir.[7]

Syntex Corporation[edit]

Martin worked at Syntex Corporation from 1978 to 1984.[7]

Bristol-Myers Squibb[edit]

Martin was director of antiviral chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb from 1984 to 1990.[1]

Gilead Sciences Inc[edit]

Martin joined the American biotechnology company Gilead Sciences in 1990 as its vice president for research and development.[7] He was Gilead's CEO from 1996 to 2016.[6][3] He became its chairman in May 2008, and its executive chairman in 2016.[3][7]

At Gilead Martin helped to develop Atripla, a single pill combining Gilead's drug Truvada (a combination of tenofovir and emtricitabine) with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Sustiva (efavirenz). Truvada and Sustiva were already "the most widely prescribed antiretroviral treatment regimen in the U.S."[8] for the treatment of HIV and AIDS.[9] One of the benefits of a combined pill was that patients would be more likely to consistently comply with treatment by taking a full dose of the prescribed drugs, which in turn would lessen the chance that drug-resistant HIV strains would develop.[8] The two companies announced that they would collaborate on the drug in 2004. An initial formulation of once-a-day single-dose Atripla was approved by the FDA on July 12, 2006.[10] Purchase of Atripla was included in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.[11]

In 2014 Martin led the development of Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) — "a treatment for the liver virus hepatitis C that can cure 90% of patients and generated $12 billion in revenue in its first year on the market."[1] Martin is credited with taking Sovaldi from "zero-to-blockbuster in a couple of months" with profits topping $10 billion for 2014.[12] However, in April 2014, U.S. House Democrats Henry Waxman, Frank Pallone, Jr., and Diana DeGette wrote Martin questioning the $84,000 price for Sovaldi. They specifically asked Martin to "explain how the drug was priced, what discounts are being made available to low-income patients and government health programs, and the potential impact to public health by insurers blocking or delaying access to the medicine because of its cost."[13]

Sofosbuvir is cited as an example of how specialty drugs present both benefits and challenges.[14][13][15]

"Sofosbuvir also is an excellent example of both the benefit and the challenge of specialty medications. On one hand, this agent offers up to a 95% response rate as part of an interferon-free treatment regimen for hepatitis C.6 Generally speaking, it is more effective and better tolerated than alternative treatments.6 Unfortunately, the current per pill cost—$1,000—results in an $84,000 treatment course, creating barriers to therapy for many.6 Patients, providers, and payors alike have expressed outrage, and the debate has even drawn the attention of the US Congress.7 Despite these concerns, sofosbuvir rapidly has become a top seller in the United States ...."[14]


Among other appointments, Martin has served as president of the International Society for Antiviral Research (1998-2000); chairman of the Board of Directors of the California Healthcare Institute (2005-2006, 2009); and chairman of the Board of Directors of BayBio (1999-2001).[7]

Martin has worked with the Federal government of the United States in a number of capacities. Martin served on the council of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (2000-2003). He was part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Health Resources and Services Administration’s Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatment (2004-2007). He also served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (2006-2009).[7]


In 1990,[16] Martin received the American Chemical Society's Isbell Award, "for his applications of carbohydrate chemistry to the design of medicinally active nucleosides and nucleotides."[7]

In 2003, Martin received the International Society for Antiviral Research's Gertrude B. Elion Award for Scientific Excellence in 2003.[17] He was also an Award Winner and National Finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award.[18]

In 2008 Martin became a member of the National Academy of Engineering, "for the invention, development, and commercialization of anti-viral medicines, especially treatments for HIV/AIDS."[19]

The 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service was presented to John Martin by the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, for his work on the development of anti-HIV medications and on AIDS prevention through Pre-exposure prophylaxis.[7]

In 2015 Martin was named by investment firm Morningstar as best CEO. During his tenure as CEO since 1996, Gilead shares rose 100-fold, and the stock posted a 157% gain just from 2013 to 2015.[12]

In 2017, Martin was chosen to receive the Biotechnology Heritage Award from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Herper, Matthew (6 May 2015). "Gilead's John C. Martin: One Breakthrough Drug After Another". Forbes. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e "Biotechnology Heritage Award". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "#6 John C Martin -". Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "John Martin: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "John C. Martin, PhD". Gilead. 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Gallo, Robert C. (November 2014). "Welcome". JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 67: 3–12. doi:10.1097/01.qai.0000456047.55809.85. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "FDA Approves Gilead, Bristol-Myers Squibb Once-a-Day Combination Antiretroviral Pill". Kaiser Health News. June 11, 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  9. ^ Alfano, Sean (July 12, 2006). "One-A-Day HIV Pill Approved". CBSN. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  10. ^ "Atripla (Efavirenz/Emtricitabine/Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate) Tablets". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  11. ^ "HIV/AIDS Historical Time Line 2000 - 2010". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Staton, Tracy (22 January 2015). "Gilead's John Martin scores 'best CEO' trophy for huge stock gains". Fierce Pharma. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Armstrong, Drew (21 March 2014). "Gilead's $84,000 Treatment Questioned by U.S. Lawmakers". Bloomberg. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Lucio, Steven (February 2015). "The Increasing Impact of High-Cost Specialty Therapies". Pharmacy Purchasing & Products Magazine. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  15. ^ Brennan, T.; Shrank W. (2014). "New expensive treatments for hepatitis C infection". JAMA. pp. 593–594. 
  16. ^ "Prominent group of new University trustees includes Kilts, Lansing". The University of Chicago Chronicle. 23 (19). July 15, 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  17. ^ "ISAR Awards". International Society for Antiviral Research. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  18. ^ "Ernst & Young Seeks Northern California Predominant Entrepreneurs", PRNewswire, San Francisco, 23 February 2004, retrieved 27 October 2015 
  19. ^ "Three Other Newly Elected Members of the National Academy of Engineering Are Part of the Viterbi Family". USC Viterbi. February 11, 2008.