John C. Martin, who grew to become a billionaire by creating and advertising and marketing a day by day single-dose capsule that remodeled H.I.V. right into a manageable illness and who popularized one other drug that cures hepatitis C, died on March 30 in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 69.
His dying, in a hospital, was confirmed by Gilead Sciences, based mostly in Foster City, Calif., the place he was chief govt from 1996 to 2016 and govt chairman from 2016 till he retired two years later. The trigger was head accidents suffered the day earlier than, when he fell on a sidewalk whereas strolling dwelling in Old Palo Alto, in keeping with the Santa Clara County health worker.
A chemist who rocketed from analysis director to chief govt of Gilead in six years, Dr. Martin turned a struggling pharmaceutical agency with a employees of 35 right into a $100 billion firm based mostly in Foster City, Calif., with some 12,000 workers.
Gilead jolted the trade with a number of main scientific breakthroughs, starting with the event of the primary anti-influenza capsule, Tamiflu, which the corporate licensed to the Swiss drugmaker Hoffman-La Roche in 1996. Its advance in opposition to hepatitis C got here in 2014, with the advertising and marketing of Sovaldi, which has been mentioned to remedy 90 p.c of sufferers with that liver virus.
Gilead’s work on H.I.V. started to bear fruit in 2004, when its Truvada was accredited to deal with the virus; the drug went on to achieve approval as a way to stop H.I.V. an infection in 2012.
The firm’s greatest advance on the H.I.V. entrance got here in 2006, with Atripla, which mixed Truvada with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Sustiva in a single capsule, changing as many as 32 separate drugs that some sufferers have been taking day by day to deal with the virus, which may result in AIDS.
The single-pill therapy was meant to be greater than a comfort. By making it simpler for sufferers to self-medicate, they have been extra prone to take the complete doses that have been prescribed, decreasing the danger that they might turn out to be breeding grounds for drug-resistant strains of the illness.
During Dr. Martin’s tenure, Gilead additionally created remdesivir in 2009, which proved ineffective in its authentic mission, to deal with hepatitis C and different viruses, however which turned out to be a therapeutic weapon through the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the corporate’s annual income soared previous $20 billion and its merchandise have been hailed as medical miracles, the federal Department of Health and Human Services claimed that Gilead had infringed authorities patents in making Truvada. (That case remains to be pending.) The firm additionally drew hearth from state and federal regulators over the prices it charged — $1,000 a month for Sustiva and $1,000 for every hepatitis capsule.
Dr. Martin defended Gilead in an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal in 2017. He argued, amongst different issues, that prime costs for profitable merchandise have been wanted to subsidize future analysis.
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The firm’s defenders additionally identified that Gilead had donated drugs in some instances and that it had partnered with local manufacturers in creating nations to supply discounted generic variations of some therapies for H.I.V. and hepatitis C.
“John’s legacy,” Daniel O’Day, the corporate’s chief govt, mentioned in an announcement, “will be felt for generations to come, living on through the scientific progress made under his leadership and the programs he championed that expanded access to medications for people around the world.”
John Charles Martin was born on May 7, 1951, in Easton, Pa., the son of Tellis Alexander Martin, a chemist for Bristol-Myers, and Janet (Sacks) Martin, who taught chemistry, physics and pc literacy at a prep college in Indiana.
Mr. Martin earned a bachelor’s diploma in chemical engineering from Purdue University, the place he met Rosemary Carella at a celebration; they married in 1977 and every earned a grasp’s diploma (his in enterprise administration and advertising and marketing) from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He later obtained a doctorate in natural chemistry from the University of Chicago.
After working at Syntex Corporation, one other drugmaker, from 1978 to 1984, Mr. Martin was director of antiviral chemistry at Bristol-Myers Squibb till 1990, when he joined Gilead.
As chief govt, he and John Milligan, who would turn out to be his successor, engineered the $11 billion takeover of Pharmasset, a developer of antiviral medicine, in 2012. In addition to working Gilead, Dr. Martin was president of the International Society for Antiviral Research from 1998 to 2000.
His marriage to Ms. Martin led to divorce. Among his survivors are their son and daughter, his three siblings and his companion, Lillian Lien-Li Lou, who was listed in a latest submitting because the secretary-treasury of the John C. Martin Foundation, whose said mission is to enhance well being look after medically-underserved populations.