A roundup of developments in corporate social responsibility and sustainability from the bio/pharmaceutical industry, its suppliers, and other private and public organizations.
Abbott received FDA approval for a new Chagas in vitro test that detects antibodies to Trypanosoma cruzi , a parasite found only in the Americas. Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease that largely affects poor and rural populations. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 11 million worldwide are affected with the disease.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation marked the first anniversary of its Together on Diabetes initiative by awarding eight grants totaling $18.4 million to help communities and populations disproportionately affected by Type 2 diabetes. The grants will be used to develop solutions that integrate public health, healthcare services, and community supportive services to improve health outcomes and reduce disease burdens. The grants are part of an overall five-year $100 million initiative, Together on Diabetes: Communities Uniting to Meet America’s Diabetes Challenges.
In other news, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation awarded $2.34 million in grants to help prisoners with mental illness return to the community. The grants were made to the South Florida Behavioral Network and Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation in Washington.
Eli Lilly is providing more than $4 million in additional funding to the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI). The funding will allow IDRI to continue its early-phase drug-discovery efforts focused on identifying new and better therapies for treating tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. In addition, Lilly will provide more than $1 million in-kind for volunteer time from Lilly scientists and access to the company’s drug-discovery expertise, chemical libraries, and research tools.
In other news, Eli Lilly contributed $12.3 million to the United Way, which represented contributions from the company’s US employees and retirees and a matching gift from the Lilly Foundation. The amount exceeded the company’s previous contribution of $12 million and was $800,000 above the 2011 donation goal.
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) highlighted two recent studies that provide global data on influenza vaccine provisions and the level of support for immunization policies. The IFPMA study published in the journal Vaccine measured seasonal influenza vaccine provisions worldwide and found coverage needs to continue to grow strongly to meet vaccination recommendations issued by public health authorities and organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO). The results showed that global vaccine supply increased by more than 70% to 449 million does during the study period (2004 to 2009), but only 20% of the 157 study countries reached the study’s low threshold level, which was based on WHO seasonal influenza immunization recommendations for the elderly only , not including other at-risk groups. A second IFPMA study published in International Nursing Review showed that public health authorities around the world officially recommend and financially support seasonal influenza vaccination for healthcare workers. The IFPMA data surveyed 26 countries from each region of the world and showed that 88% of the countries recommended healthcare worker vaccination against seasonal influenza.
Merck & Co. has awarded a grant to PATH, a global nonprofit healthcare group, to evaluate more than 30 promising technologies at various stages of development that address the two leading causes of maternal mortality, postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia, as well as family planning. The partnership, valued at $2.5 million, extends through the fall of 2012 and will integrate private- and public-sector expertise to evaluate affordable and easy-to-use maternal health technologies that work in resource-poor settings. The program is part of Merck for Mothers, a new 10-year, $500-million initiative focused on reducing maternal mortality caused by preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
In other news, Merck & Co. reported on progress in ending river blindness (i.e., onchocerciasis). Merck is partnered with the Carter Center, founded by former President Jimmy Carter, through the center’s Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas (OEPA), which assists national ministries of health in six affected Latin American countries to conduct health education and distribute Merck’s Mectizan (ivermectin). At the 21st Inter-American Conference on Onchocerciasis, held in Bogota, Colombia, last month, public health officials announced that Colombia has eliminated river blindness from within its borders, making it the first Latin American country to reach that goal. Also, Guatemala and Mexico will end drug-treatment programs for the disease in 2012 and begin the three-year postmonitoring program, already completed by Colombia, and required by the World Health Organization, to certify elimination of the disease. In Latin America, river blindness historically has affected Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela. Starting in 2012, approximately 80% of the half-million at risk will no longer be in need of treatment. Brazil and Venezuela will continue treatment in the hopes of interrupting transmission by the end of next year.
The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development held a symposium in early December to examine the impact of information and communication technology on democratization and development. The conference focused on the role of e-health applications in improving access to healthcare and in facilitating the achievement of the health-related objectives in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. The symposium also discussed the role of social media platforms in the Arab Spring and the impact of mobile-phone penetration in African nations.
Pfizer has received the 2011 Business Civic Leadership Center’s Corporate Citizenship Award in the Best International Ambassador category for Pfizer’s Global Health Partnership program. The awards honor excellence in corporate citizenship and civic leadership for initiatives in the United States and around the world. Pfizer’s Global Health Partnerships combines the philanthropic and in-kind resources of the Pfizer Foundation and Pfizer to combat noncommunicable diseases by strengthening healthcare systems and infrastructure toe support cancer- and tobacco-control efforts.
Sanofi participated in the 10th Edition of the Pan-African Conference Against Malaria, which gathers the directors of 34 African National Malaria-Control Programs, representatives of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Health Organization, the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, and scientific experts. Speaking at the conference was Sanofi CEO Christopher A. Viehbacher, who discussed the value of private–public partnerships, nonprofit organizations, and public- and private-sector groups in combating the disease. Sanofi supplies several malaria drugs in support of malaria-control efforts and the health-related United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Key efforts by Sanofi include the Impact Malaria program to supply medicines and support healthcare education and information on malaria prevention and treatment, a partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative , a public–private partnership, which developed a fixed-dose combination drug to combat malaria, and various other research efforts for malaria treatment and prevention..