As part of our long-standing commitment to ethics and good corporate citizenship, we adopt policies and procedures that facilitate compliance with the laws and regulations that govern the way we market and sell our medicines, vaccines and other products.
We have a well-established global ethics and compliance program that is consistent with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) Code of Practice requirements, as well as with other applicable regional or country industry codes of conduct, including those issued by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
Our company’s Board of Directors and senior management, including the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer and members of the Corporate Compliance Committee, provide the foundational elements of leadership, accountability and structure to oversee the company’s global ethics and compliance program.
The Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer reports directly to our company’s CEO and provides regular updates to the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors on key indicators of ethical culture. This reporting structure supports open communications with senior leadership regarding important developments that relate to ethics and compliance.
Office of Ethics
Our company’s Office of Ethics was established over 20 years ago to protect and promote the company’s values and standards on a global basis by developing and overseeing initiatives designed to deter illegal, unethical and improper behavior related to the company’s business. The Office of Ethics is responsible for ensuring that employees are aware of and trained on the Code of Conduct and company policies.
Throughout 2018 and 2019, in alignment with our priority to protect and enhance our company’s reputation through safe, ethical and compliant behaviors, the Office of Ethics added three Regional Ethics Officers to its team and established a network of site-based volunteer Ethics Ambassadors outside of the United States.
Additionally, the Office of Ethics implemented an improved reporting tool operated by an independent third party. The tool, named Speak Up (formerly theadviceline.com), is available at msdethics.com, can be accessed 24/7, and allows employees to raise concerns or ask questions confidentially (where permitted by law) in their preferred language via phone or internet.
The Office of Ethics and the Office of Global Investigations are responsible for oversight of the global processes for managing investigations into potential ethics and compliance concerns to ensure consistent and timely resolution of potential concerns and implementation of remediation actions.
It is our company policy to maintain a work environment where all employees are expected to report concerns that are potentially inconsistent with the company’s Code of Conduct and policies. Our company maintains and communicates regularly to employees about the multiple channels (i.e., management, Human Resources, Compliance, Legal, Speak Up tool at msdethics.com) that are available. Employees are encouraged, prepared and empowered to raise concerns.
We are committed to maintaining a process for escalation and investigation of potential compliance-related concerns. The process is designed to ensure that we promptly investigate all reports of behavior that violate our company’s policies, values or standards and take appropriate remedial action in response to such concerns.
When we substantiate allegations of ethical misconduct, we take appropriate disciplinary actions to ensure that those who were responsible are held accountable.
Disciplinary actions can include dismissal from the company, issuance of final written warning letters or financial penalties. In addition, we take appropriate steps to address any needed improvements in organizational and process controls.
Retaliation against employees who report such concerns is a violation of corporate policy and will not be tolerated.
We also maintain a policy that will give our company the discretion to recoup incentive payments made to employees in certain instances. This policy will apply when a senior leader engages in misconduct or fails to reasonably supervise an employee who engages in misconduct that results in a material policy violation relating to the research, development, manufacturing, sales or marketing of company products where the policy violation causes significant financial or reputational harm to the company.
Annual ethics and policy certification
An important component of our corporate ethics and compliance program is our annual ethics and policy certification. The annual review process requires selected company employees to certify adherence to corporate policies on preventing bribery and corruption, antitrust-law compliance, and conflict-of-interest and insider trading. These employees are also expected to regulate their outside activities to avoid any conflicts of interest, and to certify, in writing, whether actual or potential conflicts of interest exist.
Where potential conflicts are identified, the Office of Ethics will work with management to take actions to mitigate the potential conflict. In addition, all U.S.-based employees must certify compliance with our corporate policy on the effects of exclusions, debarments, suspensions and health care-related criminal convictions, reporting and screening.
|Office of Ethics||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019|
|Employees trained on the Code of Conduct training series||99%||100%||100%||99%||99%|
|Employees who responded to the disclosure statement on the Conflicts of Interest form||100%||100%||100%||100%||100%|