Climate, CO2emissions and balanced resource consumption have so far dominated the sustainability agenda. Also in the health and pharmaceutical industries. But sustainability is much broader - and largely includes crises like the present, where inequality in access to treatment and lack of pandemic preparedness suddenly become apparent. The responsibility is high with the pharmaceutical industry, but so is the influence and the opportunities that a broader agenda opens up. We have collected – we think – some interesting considerations here.

By Camille Aulkær Andersen, Partner & Manager of Kompas Healthcare, Kompas Kommunikation

The UN definition of sustainability reads:

"... a development in which the needs of present generations are not at the expense of the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

The healthcare sector is regarded as the sector with the greatest potential to meet and achieve the UN Sustainability Goals. So far, it has been the climate in particular that has been the focus. But the other 16 sustainability goals are now, perhaps more than ever before, also relevant to the pharmaceutical industry.

Sustainability is more than climate
This is true, for example, of the 1980s. Objectives 3, 10, 14 and 15, which open up, inter alia, the these highly topical issues1:

  1. Ensuring equal access to treatment
    All over the world there is still far too unequal access to medicines. We can treat more and more complex ailments – but the cost of treatment is increasing at the same time as the restrictions on the purchase of medicines are tightened. And while more people are better - in general - more than half of the world's population still has no access to basic health services. Increasing use of eHealth solutions, telemedicine, monitoring gadgets and digital dialogue are just some of the obvious solutions to the problem – and they are rumbling on now.
  2. Recognition of the link between healthy biosphere and healthy people
    Biodiversity conservation is consistent with molecular diversity and successful medicine development. And mass extinctions of plants and animals will have as yet unseen negative consequences for human health. At the same time, antibiotic resistance is developing into an acute global health problem. More research in these areas that are not as profitable, major political interference or initiatives for major CSR projects are requested here.
  3. Global wobble between the importance of pandemic alertness and/or preparedness
    Given that we are more vulnerable globally than in the past because of the fact that we are more vulnerable than we have been to the united States. Changing population demographics, globalisation, antibiotic resistance and climate change, we are not doing enough to prevent pandemics. Uncertainty about when and where epidemics occur means that there is very little financial incentive to develop and market the necessary vaccines before the world screams for them – and therefore represent only a vanishingly small part of the global pharmaceutical industry. Again, R&D is being called for in less profitable areas – and in the coming year we will probably also see several trials of analysis of what is best: Monitoring or vaccine preparedness.

How does your (pharmaceutical) company work with the sustainability goals? Were you inspired? Or are you already ready for a sustainable future?

We are ready for a – so far virtual – talk based on your company's specific situation. You're just calling.

Read more about Kompas and our experience with healthcare here: