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A roundup of developments in corporate social responsibility and sustainability from the bio/pharmaceutical industry, its suppliers, and other private and public organizations.
The Amgen Foundation and European Schoolnet launched the “Amgen Science Teacher Training Initiative” in France, Germany, Ireland, and Poland. The Amgen Science Teacher Training Initiative provides professional development for secondary school science teachers to help them incorporate hands-on inquiry-based science education in their classrooms. The initiative will focus on those teaching science, principally biology and chemistry, to students aged 12 to 18.
The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to strengthening the relationship between patients and their healthcare providers, has received a $500,000 grant from the Amgen Foundation. This grant will go toward the planned expansion of Schwartz Center Rounds and to support the launch of a National Consensus Project. The Schwartz Center Rounds allow caregivers from multiple disciplines to come together on a regular basis to discuss the most challenging emotional and social issues they face in caring for patients. The National Consensus Project will convene a broad range of stakeholders to define compassionate care, develop best practices to ensure that this type of care is provided, and develop a plan to implement these core principles and best practices.
BASF has established new environmental, health, and safety goals. The company wants to increase its energy efficiency worldwide by 35% by 2020, compared to its previous goal of 25%. The company also aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions per ton of sales product by 40%, originally set at 25%. By 2020, the company plans to cut in half the current amount of drinking water it uses for production compared to 2010. It also intends to establish sustainable water-management systems at all production sites in areas of water stress. Within the area of occupational health, BASF will measure its performance with a new, expanded indicator, the “Health Performance Index.” The index comprises five criteria: reported cases of occupational diseases, medical-emergency planning, first aid, preventive medicine, and health promotion
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced $7.7 million in funding for 10 new grants to identify biomarkers for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) in low-resource settings. This new grant program, Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis, supports innovative research into TB biomarkers to facilitate the development of a low-cost, simple-to-use tool that can quickly and accurately diagnose TB in developing countries. The biomarkers program is part of the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which seeks to overcome bottlenecks in creating new tools to improve health in the developing world. The Gates Foundation is partnering on this program with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, which will help monitor the grant portfolio and supply clinical TB samples from developing countries, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which is co-funding one of the grants.
Eli Lilly has released its corporate responsibility report using the Global Reporting Initiative framework, which is designed to help companies report on economic, environmental, and social performance. Included in the report are highlights indicating that Lilly:
• Helped more than 227,000 people through its patient-assistance programs in 2010, a 12% increase compared to the previous year
• Launched a physician-payment registry to help people better understand how the company works with doctors to advance research and education
• Introduced 229 new clinical-trial sites in US locations with diverse populations since 2008
• Gave approximately $430 million in global charitable contributions in 2010, including cash, products, and other in-kind donations
• Invested its largest-ever education-focused grant ($2.5 million) in a campaign sponsored by The Mind Trust to improve public education for underserved children
• Launched a new five-year, $60 million commitments through The Lilly NCD Partnership and The Lilly MDR–TB Partnership to improve outcomes for underserved populations
• Selected 200 employees to volunteer, on company time, in countries where people lack resources or access to quality healthcare
• Decreased water intake by more than 30% and waste to landfill by 50% compared to 2007
• Improved energy efficiency by more than 12%, compared to 2007, and reduced corresponding greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 9%.
Eli Lilly has pledged $100,000 to the American Red Cross for its tornado-disaster relief efforts. The donation will support families and communities affected by tornadoes that struck Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama, and Georgia on March 2, 2012. In addition, through its matching gifts program, the Lilly Foundation will provide a 1:1 match of employee donations to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) has announced an expansion of its Code of Practice to govern how companies interact with healthcare professionals, medical institutions, and patient organizations. Beyond addressing interactions, the Code now also includes high-level guiding principles for practice, a requirement for member companies to train all employees, a clear distinction between gifts, promotional aids, and items of medical utility, guidance for supporting continuing medical education, a provision on disclosure of clinical-trials information, and guidance for filing complaints. The Code continues to prohibit preapproval promotional activities for pharmaceutical products, company-sponsored entertainment at events, and providing or offering personal gifts to healthcare professionals.
Merck & Co. has received the 2012 Energy Start Sustained Excellence Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its continued improvement of energy performance and leadership in energy management in both the pharmaceutical and industrial sectors. Merck has been an Energy Star partner since 1995 and has been recognized by EPA for seven consecutive years, twice as Partner of the Year and now a fifth time for Sustained Excellence. The 2012 Energy Sustained Excellence Award recognizes the accomplishments of Merck's energy-management program, including Energy Star designations earned for six manufacturing sites and three large corporate office buildings, including two at the company's headquarters campus and one building with a major data center. These efforts at the company's sites are part of a broader effort to reduce energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions. Merck has a greenhouse-gas reduction goal of 10% by 2015 from a 2009 baseline, reflecting the integration of the merger of Schering-Plough and Merck in November 2009 into one business entity.
The NAMES Foundation, with support from Merck & Co. launched the "Call My Name" national tour to help bring attention to the AIDS epidemic in African American communities in the United States through quilt-making and educational workshops. The NAMES Project Foundation is the international, nongovernmental organization that is the custodian of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and its associated document and media archive. The tour kicked off on Feb. 11, 2012 and will visit 10 US cities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF report that the world has met the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, well in advance of the MDG 2015 deadline, according to a report issued by UNICEF and WHO. Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells. At the end of 2010, 89% of the world’s population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. This is 1% more than the 88% MDG target. A WHO-UNICEF report estimates that by 2015, 92% of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.
In other news, a small group of global public health and influenza experts at a WHO-convened meeting reached consensus on two issues related to the newly created H5N1 influenza viruses: extending the temporary moratorium on research with new laboratory-modified H5N1 viruses and recognition that research on naturally occurring H5N1 influenza virus must continue to protect public health. WHO convened the meeting as a first step to facilitate the discussion of differing opinions that have arisen in recent months after two research groups, one in the Netherlands and the other based in the United States, have created versions of the H5N1 influenza virus which are more transmissible in mammals than the H5N1 virus that occurs naturally. The experts at the meeting included lead researchers of the two studies, scientific journals interested in publishing the research, funders of the research, countries who provided the viruses, bioethicists and directors from several WHO collaborating-center laboratories specializing in influenza.
The VWR Charitable Foundation,, the philanthropic arm of the laboratory supply and distribution company, VWR International, raised $75,000 in an auction on Jan. 16, 2012, to benefit Children's National Medical Center of Washington D.C.