NEW YORK, NY, MONDAY – The Access to Medicine Index (ATMI), an independent initiative that ranks the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies on efforts to improve access to medicines and vaccines for the millions of people living in developing countries, today published the results of their 2014 study.
As an original signatory to the ATMI Investor Statement, ICCR members welcomed the new report.
Of the seven areas covered by the study, the results indicate that positive strides are being made by the pharma industry as a whole in terms of developing and scaling innovations to improve access and affordability, however, the study indicates that progress has been weaker in two key areas: Public Policy & Market Influence and Patents & Licensing.
“ICCR has been engaging pharmaceutical companies on a range of access and affordability issues that are articulated in our Statement of Principles on Global Health,” said David Schilling, senior program director of ICCR. “The Access to Medicine Index is a critical tool for investor engagement that identifies ‘best practices’ and a competitive benchmarking that encourages companies to continuously improve their performance.”
For the fourth time, Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) leads the index due to strong performance across most of the study areas. Investors note that they have strong strategies in place to maintain the affordability of their vaccines in developing countries.
“We are encouraged by the findings of the 2014 ATMI highlighting that more companies are focusing on innovative access-oriented business models in critical geographies such as GSK’s work in Africa. We are further encouraged that almost half of the access strategies are focused on diseases such as lower respiratory infections, diabetes and hepatitis that are increasingly impacting the developing world,” said Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management who leads the investor engagement with GSK. “However, we clearly need to see greater advances in the institution of, and compliance with, codes of conduct that will guard against incidents of bribery, corruption, and unethical marketing that have resulted in expensive settlements and fines for so many companies, including GSK, over this period. These are corporate cultural shifts that absolutely must take place if our companies are to prosper, our investments are to be safeguarded and the health challenges of the world’s most disadvantaged people are to be met.”
The scope of the ATMI benchmarking study, released every two years, was recently expanded to include additional countries in Latin America and additional diseases such as mental health disorders and Hepatitis C. The study was further expanded to analyze compliance with codes of conduct and ethical breaches such as corruption, bribery or anti-competitive behavior as well as unethical marketing and lobbying practices. In the last two years nearly all the companies studied (18) have been cited for ethics breaches.
Observed Cathy Rowan of the Maryknoll Sisters, “With the Ebola crisis, we are seeing the life-and-death implications of the lack of research, development and innovative treatment options to address neglected diseases. There is enough to do without the distraction of lawsuits and expensive settlements. As faith-based investors, we believe pharmaceutical companies have a moral obligation and a social contract to assist the global community in responding to global health needs. The Access to Medicine Index sets clear standards and allows us to monitor the performance of pharmaceutical companies in critical areas. We welcome this new ATMI study as it provides an independent measurement and accountability mechanism that enhances our shareholder engagements with these companies.”
On December 8th, Boston Common is co-convening an investor briefing in New York City on the 2014 Access to Medicine Index where the Index team will present a new ranking of the 20 leading research-based pharmaceutical companies and explain the drivers behind the changes in ranking positions. They will discuss key findings and industry trends, and give insight into where companies are focusing and innovating, including in key areas such as pricing, R&D and patents. Boston Common has been engaging GlaxoSmithKline on sustainability issues including access to medicine/global health for more than ten years and are pleased to see them continue to rank #1 in this fourth iteration of the Index.
For more information on the December 8th investor briefing, please contact Lauren Compere at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Currently celebrating its 44th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world. www.iccr.org
Contact: Susana McDermott, Director of Communications, ICCR