A roundup of developments in corporate social responsibility and sustainability from the bio/pharmaceutical industry, its suppliers, and other public and private organizations.
Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, IL) has been named one of the top 10 companies for diversity in a survey by the Calvert Group, which evaluated 100 Standard & Poor companies on 10 diversity indicators, including equal employment practices, internal and external diversity initiatives, family-friendly benefits, compensation, board representation, and overall company commitment.
In other news, Abbott awarded Jason Egbert, a student with cystic fibrosis, the 2010 Thriving Student Achiever Scholarship, which is awarded to students that have shown exceptional academic performance, community service, and creative and artistic talent. Details of the award, the winner, and three “honorable mentions” can be found at www.CFCareForwardScholarship.com
Abbott and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) have partnered to provide HIV testing to infants in all countries working in partnership with CHAI with a focus on the sub-Saharan Africa. Under the agreement, Abbott will supply RealTime HIV-1 qualitative tests to healthcare facilities. The test is currently used for research purposes and is expected to be marked by the Conformite Europeene by January 2011. Abbott also will offer the capability to collect and process samples using dried blood spots, which eliminates the need to refrigerate specimens.
Amgen (Thousand Oaks, CA), through the Amgen Foundation, and Ashoka’s Changemakers, a community of action that links social entrepreneurs, announced 10 finalists in the Patients Choices/Empowerment competition and launched public online voting in search of the best innovative solutions that empower patients, elevate patients’ voices, and improve health outcomes. The ten finalists were selected from 277 entries. The three finalists that receive the highest number of votes from the Changemakers.com community will each receive a $10,000 cash prize in unrestricted funding to support their projects. Details of the 10 finalists may be found here.
Amgen announced the 11 recipients of the Amgen Excellence in Volunteering Awards, an award launched by the Amgen Foundation this year to recognize staff in the United States and Puerto Rico who are making a difference in the communities where the company has a presence. The Amgen Foundation will award $5000 to each nonprofit organization featured in the winning staff members’ application. Details of the winners may be found here. The Amgen Excellence in Volunteering Awards is part of the Amgen Volunteers program, which provides $500 volunteer service grants to eligible nonprofit organizations for every 15 hours volunteered by Amgen staff. Since 2007, Amgen has awarded $1.5 million to organizations through that program.
Amgen is accepting applications for its 19th annual Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence (AASTE). This award is designed to recognize and honor extraordinary science teachers at the K-12 level who significantly impact their students through exemplary science teaching and who achieve demonstrated results in student learning in communities where Amgen operates. Applications are open until February 2011. Details may be found here.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $50 million over five years to the Innovative Vector Control Consortium, a nonprofit product-development organization, for developing new insecticides for the improved control of mosquitoes and other insects that transmit malaria, dengue fever, and other neglected tropical diseases.
The Dow Chemical Company (Midland, MI) was named a 2010 Leader of Change by the Foundation for Social Change and the United Nations Office for Partnerships for providing business and sustainable solutions. Dow was one of 12 corporations recognized at the 2010 Global Conference for Social Change, held in New York in mid-November.
Eli Lilly (Indianapolis, IN) contributed $11.6 million to the United Way. The amount represents contributions from Eli Lilly’s US employees and retirees and a matching gift from the Lilly Foundation.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK, London) and the Oswald Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), a research institute based in Brazil, formed a collaboration to research and develop new medicines to treat diseases that disproportionately affect people living in the developing world. GSK and Fiocruz first formed a relationship in 1985 to develop vaccines. Under the new collaboration, GSK and Fiocruz will share research and expertise for drugs to treat malaria, tuberculosis, and leishmaniasis, with initial research prioritized for drugs to treat Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.
BabyCenter, an information resource for mothers and parents and part of Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, NJ), has partnered with Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization for fighting poverty, to support mobile healthcare for expectant mothers in the developing world through a fundraising and education campaign. The organizations are working on a free service, “Mobile Midwife,” which is deployed by mobile phones in rural communities of Ghana to provide expectant mothers with advice for prenatal care.
Merck & Co. (Whitehouse Station, NJ) has awarded a four-year, $1-million contribution to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), a coalition of 250 corporations, academic institutions, government organizations, and nonprofit associations working to increase women’s participation in information technology. The partnership between Merck and NCWIT will initially focus on raising awareness among K-12 school counselors for increasing student interest in computing and technical careers.
In other news, Merck & Co. will donate $150,000 to the Carter Center, a nonprofit organization founded by former President James Carter, to the center for its sponsorship of the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OPEA), an initiative to eliminate river blindness. The center’s OPEA works with Merck, the Merck Mectizan Donation Program, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Loins Club International Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as other academic and other organizations to eliminate river blindness. Merck’s funding will be in the form of a challenge grant, whereby the Carter Center will raise an additional $150,000 in matching funds. In 2008, PAHO passed a resolution calling for river blindness to be eliminated in Latin America by 2012 and for official certification of elimination by 2015. The Carter Center assists national ministries of health in six Latin American countries (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venzuela) to conduct health education and distribute Merck’s Mectizan (ivermectin), a drug to treat river blindness.
United Nations Special Representative for Business and Human Rights John Ruggie posted a draft document, “Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the UN Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework” on his online consultation forum. The forum is intended to gather views from stakeholders and is open for comment until Jan. 31, 2011. The Guiding Principles elaborate and clarify for companies, states, and other stakeholders how to operationalize the UN’s Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, which provides practical steps to identify and address the business impacts on the human rights of individuals. After the forum closes in January, Ruggie will submit the final text of the Guiding Principles to the UN for translation before formally presenting it formally to the Human Rights Council in June 2011.
Representatives of almost 40 countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region met in Oslo Nov. 25 and 26 to strengthen efforts to prevent and control the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases. The Oslo consultation was held in advance of a UN meeting on noncommunicable diseases that will be held in September 2011 for European governments to discuss Europe’s needs and perspectives in the global discussion on noncommunicable diseases. The four most prominent noncommunicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung diseases) account for 77% of the disease burden and 86% of all deaths in the 53 countries in the WHO European Region. Low- and middle-income countries in the eastern part of the WHO European Region are particularly and increasingly affected by noncommunicable diseases. The Oslo consultation focused on development challenges and the importance of tackling health inequities and social determinants of health. The Oslo consultation was hosted by the Norwegian government and cosponsored by WHO, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.