Investors to rank big pharma on disease prevention

Index of pharmaceutical companies and their policies on acces to medicines will begin in spring next year.

Institutional investors will soon be able to challenge multinational pharmaceutical companies over whether they are doing enough to fight deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria in developing countries with the launch early next year of a top 20 ranking according to best practice.
The index, compiled by Innovest, the SRI research house in conjunction with the Netherlands-based Access to Medicine Foundation, aims to give investors an objective benchmark of the work pharmaceutical companies are doing to provide medicines that could help reduce deaths. The foundation will publish a final report this month collating input from investors, governments and non-governmental organizations on the issue, which will act as the basis for the Access to Medicine Index.
Investors running assets of about €900bn ($1.3trillion), including the Universities Superannuation Scheme, Switzerland’s Ethos Foundation, the Interfaith Centre on Corporate Responsibility and fund managers Morley, F&C and Schroders, have thrown their weight behind the project. They say the issue is both a humanitarian crisis and an investment problem. A recent joint statement declared: “There is a growing public health crisis which is apparent in developing countries. How the pharmaceutical industry responds to the access to medicine issue could impact materially on long-termshareholder value. Investors want to feel confident that company management have fully considered risks and opportunities in relation to the access to medicine issue, and have effective policies and processes for dealing with the challenges.” The Access to Medicine Foundation is supported by Aedes, the European Agency for Development and Health and the Dutch and UK governments. Its recommendations have been adopted into United Nations guidelines on the pharmaceutical sector.
Martijn van Rijnsoever, a spokesperson at the foundation, said: “The index will be aspirational but attainable. It’s designed to rank pharmaceutical companies on a best-in-class basis and give investors, governments and NGO’s a factual basis upon which to engage with companies like GSK, Novartis and Pfizer.”
A report published in June this year by Pharma Futures, a lobby group convened by ABP, USS and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, was critical of the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to produce new drugs to fight diseases and deal with reputational issues in developing countries. HIV/AIDS has become the leading cause of premature death in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth largest killer worldwide. TB and malaria are also significant health burdens in developing countries.
Link to Acces to Medecine Foundation