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John C. Martin  

John Martin, a chemist who became Gilead’s CEO in 1996

John Martin, a chemist who became Gilead’s CEO in 1996, took some heat this year for a wonder drug that can cure hepatitis C, a disease that afflicts more than 130 million people and kills 350,000 around the world each year. For all its benefits, Gilead’s revolutionary medicine, Sovaldi, drew criticism for its price tag: $84,000—or about $1,000 a pill—in the U.S.  Gilead, which also brings in around $9 billion in annual sales of HIV drugs, says Sovaldi’s price reflects its value. It has certainly boosted Gilead’s health: The company’s stock is up 40% in 2014, and hep-C drug sales, projected to top $11 billion, will double the company’s revenues this year. With Gilead’s competitors well behind, it’s unlikely pricing pressure will bring those numbers down soon. So how did Gilead suddenly get to the top of the pharma heap? Many say Martin’s leadership—and prescient dealmaking—is a big part of the answer. —Erika Fry

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