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Hepatitis B Foundation mourns the passing of John C. Martin, pharmaceutical industry leader

The former CEO of Gilead, Martin personally was committed to addressing the problem of hepatitis B.

Doylestown, April 1, 2021 – The leadership and staff of the Hepatitis B Foundation share a high regard for John C. Martin, PhD, former CEO of Gilead Sciences Inc., who died suddenly this week.

Best known for his leadership at Gilead in providing the first effective treatment for HIV, Dr. Martin also headed the company as it conducted groundbreaking work aimed at a treatment for hepatitis B, which currently affects about 2.4 million U.S. residents. Gilead also is the producer of curative therapies for hepatitis C.

Dr. Martin, a chemist, came to the Hepatitis B Foundation in 2019 to deliver the Foundation’s annual Bruce Witte Lecture, according to Timothy M. Block, PhD, president and CEO of the Foundation. Dr. Block, his wife Joan, and Janine and Paul Witte created the Foundation in 1991.

John martin and Tim Block cropped Dr. Martin (left) and Dr. Block

“Dr. Martin expressed his personal commitment to help in preventing and treating hepatitis B to Joan and me on a number of occasions,” Dr. Block said. “He understood the terrible impact that the disease has around the world, and he knew that his company was a key contributor in the fight against the disease.”

“On behalf of Joan and myself and everyone at the Foundation, we extend our condolences and best wishes to the Martin family,” Dr. Block added.

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About Hepatitis B

A very recent publication by Dr. Block and a team of public health experts, scientists and physicians shows that the number of people living in the U.S. who have a chronic hepatitis B infection may be as high as 2.4 million, significantly greater than the generally accepted estimate of 2.2 million in 2011. Worldwide, as many as 300 million people or more may be living with hepatitis B. About 884,000 people die each year from hepatitis B and complications, primarily liver cancer. There are more statistics and sources at www.hepb.org.