Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered
I’ve seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
If you, like me, are interested in getting a handle on the inner-workings of pharma, – the good and the bad – you’re going to want to take heed and say hi to Edgar.
Yeah, EDGAR, see? He’s got the inside knowledge. The scoop.
EDGAR stands for Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval. Can we call him Ed?
The database is an arm of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Big Brother outfit that seeks to protect investors and promote transparency to win the public’s trust.
What that means is an s-ton of info is available to the public online about publicly-held companies, like Vertex, the target of my anti-gouging petition.
(Gouging the hell out of a drug, BTW, is not illegal at all. Gouging a gallon of gas after a tornado? Why, that low-down dirty Tom fuckery’ll land ya in jail!)
Whether your are a disgruntled prescription drug consumer, an investor or a person who like me has a passion for original source material, you can follow these steps and start digging like a reporter-mom.
This is what you need to look for to get started:
- Visit this link to EDGAR
- On the sidebar along the left side of the page, click “Company filings.”
- Now what? To get started, here are a few things to know and do:
Know: EDGAR is unforgiving.
To pull up Vertex, I had to type “Vertex Pharmaceuticals” to find the correct company, quotes and all.
On the top left, I can filter the results by the type of document filed. Those document names, tho. Steel self for the opaque, acronym-plagued bureaucratic parlance that’s characteristic of Uncle Sam.
First, it’s helpful to understand a few basics about what you are looking at.
This important filing is an annual report. These are superlong and contain oodles of juicy info. The company needs to detail its business, like risks and potential conflicts of interest, with its named executive officers and directors.
These quarterly reports contain mostly financial info as well as updates on lawsuits and other goings-on that have changed through the quarter. Most of what is in a quarterly report is compiled in the annual report, so you might want to read the bigger summaries first and then follow interesting issues throughout the year or as long as you are interested.
The DEF 14A
I’m sorry, what? These terms are the worst type of jargon. DEF 14A is code for proxy statement, which is not self-explanatory. So let me explain: Ahead of a shareholder meeting, the SEC requires companies to debrief its shareholders so they can make informed decisions about info that will be aired at an annual or special stockholder meeting. The company must file a DEF 14A ie proxy statement with the SEC. These are public documents.
Back to the unforgiving EDGAR:
To filter your results, you need to type “10-K,” for annual reports “10-Q”for quarterlies or “DEF 14A” for proxy statements. These search terms must be typed in exactly, including the dash, or it won’t work.
The work of combing through EDGAR yields lots of information, like the below chart of Vertex executive salaries. Mark n me combed through five years of reports, gleaned the compensation packages and then tallied it all up in a Google Doc to come up with what you see below.
Have fun and let me know what you find out about the companies you investigate.
“The truth is like poetry.
And people fucking hate poetry.”
-overheard at a D.C. bar and quoted in “The Big Short” (on Netflix now BTW)