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National News

Bush to Name Ex-Lilly CEO to Run AIDS Fund

July 2, 2003

President Bush is today naming Randall Tobias, a former chair and CEO of Eli Lilly & Co. and a Republican activist, to coordinate the $15 billion program to combat AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.

According to government and outside sources, the White House selected Tobias to lead the initiative through a new office at the State Department. At least one source said Dr. Joseph O'Neill, who heads the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, would move to the new program as well. The appointment comes a month after Bush signed the AIDS initiative into law.

Tobias's biography suggests little direct experience in working on AIDS in developing countries but extensive experience with pharmaceuticals and corporations. After six years at Lilly, the Indiana native retired in 1998. Previously, he became the youngest senior executive in AT&T's history in 1981 and eventually its vice chair.

Tobias and Lilly have been major donors to the Republican Party. He gave $4,000 to Bush from 1999 to 2001; during the same period, he and his wife donated $37,000 to the GOP and its state elections committee. Lilly gave another $23,000 to Bush's 2000 campaign and spent $234,000 on direct mail to stockholders on Bush's behalf, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tobias has endorsed Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., a former Lilly senior executive and the White House's recently departed budget director, for governor of Indiana, and is scheduled to host a $5,000-per person fundraiser for him this month.

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News of Tobias's appointment brought both praise and skepticism from AIDS advocates. Sandra L. Thurman, AIDS czar for the Clinton administration and now president of the International AIDS Trust, called the appointment "good news" and said, "This is clearly a person with tremendous stature and management acumen."

Others were less optimistic. "It seems to be a great day for American drug companies," said Denise Hughes, media director of Results, a Washington-based organization that advocates the use of cheaper generic antiretrovirals in poor countries. "Let's hope that Mr. Tobias can deliver low-cost, generic drugs to those in need in places like Africa and Asia as the AIDS virus spreads out of control."

Back to other CDC news for July 2, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Washington Post
07.02.03; Amy Goldstein; David Brown



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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