There is no doubt that the bulk of the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts were directed towards alleviating the consequences of COVID-19. However, as a fundamental part of science and development, it is not enough to concentrate on a single objective. Therefore, in the industry, 2020 was also a year of concrete actions to combat climate change and reduce its impact, and above all, to set a precedent for future generations.
All changes within the industry, were guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which were proposed in 2015 with a 15-year period to achieve significant change. This means that the next 10 years will be full of advances and challenges. The first five years have been a start and the industry has hit its stride.
Seeking to contribute to the 17 proposed SDGs, the Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Research Industries (AMIIF) established five main goals in 2020: end poverty; health and well-being; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; and partnerships to achieve the goals.
After a year of accumulating concrete actions, AMIIF launched its 2020 social report, in which 25 companies demonstrated leadership in social responsibility, as well as in gender equity and ethics, while adhering to global compacts.
2020 was one of the most difficult years for the global economy. For the first time in 20 years extreme poverty increased, 115 million people were pushed into extreme poverty, which represents almost 1 % of the world’s population. In response to this situation, AMIIF member companies generated employment within the industry.
In 2020, the industry generated nearly 23,000 jobs and made loans to help more than 600 people, including construction loans for their employees. Similarly, five companies, together with the Mexican government, developed concrete programs for small farmers, giving them access to markets and credit.
Donations made by the industry throughout the year should also be taken into account. 42 % of these donations were destined to alleviate the consequences of COVID-19, while the rest was used to maintain programs through institutions such as the Foundation for Human Promotion, Operation Smile or Save the Children.
On the other hand, in view of a future where the health and well-being of the population improves, AMIIF associated companies presented different solutions. Indeed, they provided scholarships for medical and research students, and developed programs focused on maternal health and sex education, as well as programs to support drug and vaccine research in laboratories.
In this same line and focused on the welfare of the population, medicines were donated for all kinds of diseases: from anemia, through cancer to immunodeficiencies. Plus, of utmost importance, programs focused on mental health helped more than 30,000 people.
The future of everything
It is also clear that if a country does not support education, there is no future for it, because besides being a human right, it is proven that education reduces poverty, improves health, encourages gender equity and equal opportunities for all. In fact, a person’s income per hour increases by 9 % for each year of schooling. Therefore, supporting educational processes means, for the industry, to promote a medium and long-term welfare in the whole world.
That is why, some AMIIF companies have decided to support the families of their workers through the payment of tuition fees and school supplies. Summer programs are also offered at companies facilities to promote talent. Additionally, the companies have virtual platforms for distance medical education, offering more than 700 courses.
Following this approach, companies have sought agreements with universities to provide internships, scholarships and job offers for newly graduates. More specifically, companies have developed education programs for sustainable development such as pollinator gardens and bee protection, school gardens, resource optimization, deforestation or the purchase of carbon credits.
On the other hand, part of reducing social gaps has to do with the promotion of equality and non-discrimination policies for people belonging to minorities such as the LGBTQ+ community, ethnic groups, religions or people with disabilities. So, supporting these people is also a way of betting on a sustainable future that provides a better quality of life.
Finally, innovation was an important axis, since through innovation, research in the industry is encouraged. As a result, innovation challenges and initiatives were created within the companies, as well as programs that boosted the development of medicines for patients around the world.
Internally, companies have also commited to protect the environment to ensure a greener future. This is why environmental and social management models have been promoted and include: water saving, light saving or paper saving programs.
In addition, programs to compensate for environmental impacts have been created, such as reforestation of trees or the collection of rainwater for internal use. This, of course, goes hand in hand with the use of efficient installations that save light and water, and recycle and reuse water.
However, these efforts are in vain if they are not amplified throughout the industry’s value chain. Indeed, both customers and suppliers must address the needs that climate change demands. Therefore, sustainability committees, waste recycling (including drug waste), and a better use of energy in the value chain are fundamental for the industry.
Although because of the coronavirus crisis, the whole world has faced difficulties, achieving the SDGs should be an everyday task, no matter what circumstances are going on around us. Perseverance in the pursuit of the Goals will ensure that in the long term the industry will be able to bring about significant changes at a global level.
In addition, the AMIIF report showed that the pharmaceutical industry sees health and wellness as a global issue and must be adopted by all people. Therefore, efforts must be deployed in a broad field of action, without neglecting the creation of medicines, vaccines and treatments for a longer and healthier life.