We prioritize the issues that are most important to our business, and to our external stakeholders, based on the outcome of a formal corporate responsibility (CR) materiality assessment.

The resulting materiality matrix, shown below, represents the issues that internal and external stakeholders have identified as having significant financial, operational or reputational impact on the company and illustrates where our company can have a significant impact on society and the environment.

For how we define each of our material topics in the matrix above, please see the definitions at the bottom of the page.

Materiality Process

The assessment, which concluded in 2014, included desktop research, a review of corporate objectives and strategies, analysis of media coverage, stakeholder feedback on prior reporting, industry benchmarking, consultative interviews with stakeholders both inside and outside the company and intensive internal workshops and socialization sessions across the business.

We used the findings from our survey submissions to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and the Access to Medicine Index (ATMI), in addition to referencing the most current sustainability and corporate responsibility research reports, to select and refine a list of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues for further analysis.

Internally, we engaged with senior executives from key functional areas and business units and asked these business leaders to identify the issues of highest importance with respect to their impact on:

  • Financial value and revenue
  • Operational excellence
  • Compliance with regulations
  • Corporate reputation
  • Shareholder value
  • Employees and their level of engagement

Externally, we engaged more than 30 stakeholder groups that represented a cross section of advocacy interests, including on-the-ground implementation partners, socially responsible investors and mainstream investors, environmental NGOs, customers, public health advocates and others considered important to our industry and our business. Through in-person interviews, we asked our stakeholders to indicate which issues were important to their groups or communities, where action from the private sector, and from our company in particular, is critical and how we can drive excellence through our corporate responsibility efforts.

Stakeholders were asked to rank the list of material issues and impacts, assess our company’s performance on these priority issues and share their expectations related to strategy, reporting and stakeholder engagement.

The final results were endorsed by our own Social Business Investment Council, comprising senior executives from key company functions and divisions, and by the company’s Board Governance Committee.

We will continue to use this approach to identify corporate responsibility–relevant opportunities and risks and to help us prioritize our efforts addressing the issues of greatest significance to stakeholders and to our company’s future success. We intend to update our materiality matrix by conducting a materiality analysis among our stakeholders beginning in 2018.



Animal-Based Research

  • Internal standards
  • Transparent reporting
  • Consideration of alternatives to animal testing
  • Training

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  • Strategy and operations
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Supply chain security

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  • Genetic resources
  • Stem cells
  • GMOs
  • Nanotechnology

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Capacity Building

  • Training and educational programs
  • Local infrastructure improvements
  • Skills and technology transfer to emerging countries

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Clinical Trials

  • Gender balance
  • Enrolling diverse patient populations
  • Development of trial sites outside the U.S.
  • Post-trial access (including compassionate use)
  • Transparent management of clinical trial data
  • Global standards to ensure ethics in R&D
  • Sharing of data within the scientific community

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Community Relations

  • Engagement and dialogue with external stakeholders (including local communities, NGOs, local governments, academia, etc.)

Learn more on our Stakeholder Engagement and Community pages.

Continuity of Supply

  • Assurance of manufacturing
  • Inventory tracking
  • Pandemic readiness

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Disease Focus

  • Development of medications/treatments based on health needs rather than lifestyle

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Health Adherence

  • Engagement with patients and health care providers to promote adherence to medication/treatment regimens

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Health Literacy

  • The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions

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Intellectual Property

  • Patent protections and flexibility
  • Licensing agreements
  • Generics policies

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Local Development

  • Contribution to local economic development

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  • Foundation
  • Cash donations
  • Product donations
  • Disaster relief

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Pricing and Commercialization

  • Pricing strategies
  • Differential pricing
  • Affordability
  • Availability
  • Registration
  • Pricing transparency
  • Reimbursement strategies

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Product Quality

  • Compliance
  • Trusted products

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Product Safety

  • Management standards
  • Post-market surveillance

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Research & Development

  • Research in unmet medical needs
  • Driving innovation that creates value for society (not simply “me too” drugs)

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Diversity and Inclusion

  • Employee diversity and inclusion
  • Prevention of discrimination
  • Equal opportunity

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Employee Volunteerism

  • Employee volunteer programs

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Labor Practices

  • Management-worker relationships
  • Freedom of expression and association
  • Right to collective bargaining

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Occupational Health and Safety

  • Hazard minimization precautions
  • Promotion of employee health, safety and well-being
  • Assessments
  • Provision of personal protective equipment
  • Emergency response plans

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  • Workforce reduction
  • Reorganization

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Talent Development and Recruitment

  • Training and development
  • Recruitment
  • Leadership development
  • Retention
  • Career management and promotion
  • Compensation and benefits

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Work-Life Balance and Wellness

  • Employee well-being
  • Employee safety
  • Rewards and incentives
  • Positive work environment

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Climate and Energy (Climate)

  • Energy management practices
  • Carbon footprint reductions (Scopes 1, 2 and 3)
  • Renewable energy projects

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Ecosystem Impacts

  • Use of natural substances (e.g., plants and animals) and materials
  • Biodiversity preservation

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Green Chemistry

  • Use of substances and processes that are more environmentally beneficial
  • Avoidance of chemicals of concern

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Non-GHG Emissions

  • Air emissions such as VOCs, SOx, NOx, etc.

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  • Impact of design, materials, processing and disposal: the full product life cycle

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Pharmaceuticals in the Environment

  • Biological waste from patients/animals
  • Unused/expired medicines

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Waste Management

  • Handling, management and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste

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Water Use and Management

  • Influent and effluent parameters, including source, scarcity, recharge rates, quality, treatment and impacts on local communities

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Corporate Governance

  • Corporate management
  • Board structure
  • Board independence
  • Risk management
  • Executive compensation
  • Accountability

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Distribution of Profits

  • Distribution of revenue
  • Value sharing
  • Tax strategy
  • Investments in local markets

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Ethics in Sales and Marketing

  • Brand management and promotion
  • Ethical marketing
  • Competitive behavior
  • Prevention of anti-competitive practices
  • Compliance with regulatory authorities
  • Anti-corruption/anti-bribery

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Human Rights

  • Human rights
  • Supply chain
  • Health as a human right

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Internal Controls

  • Policies
  • Standards
  • Code of conduct
  • Audits

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  • Lobbying
  • Political contributions
  • Public policy
  • Market influence

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Privacy of Patient Data

  • Policies
  • Standards
  • Procedures
  • Training

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Responsible Procurement

  • Supply chain policies
  • Sourcing guidelines
  • Auditing
  • Sustainable materials guidelines
  • Design for the environment practices
  • Social/environmental criteria to tender requests
  • Alternative methodologies or inputs to reduce the environmental impact

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Transparency and Reporting

  • Transparency disclosures
  • Sustainability reporting (GRI, CDP, etc.)

Learn more.