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Pfizer given poor rating

July 2003

The world’s largest pharmaceutical group has fared poorly in a rating of how the top 11 drugs companies perform on social issues in developing countries.

Pfizer, which employs 120,000 people and had a turnover of $32billion (£19bn) last year, is judged to be ‘some way behind’ the others, along with Abbott Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Wyeth.

The ranking by CoreRatings, an independent agency which assesses investment risk arising from non-financial factors, is based on five key indicators – how companies tackle priority diseases identified by the World Health Organization, the degree of access they give to essential medicines in developing countries, medicine safety and testing, the environment, and how they deal with bribery.

While the companies on average scored 50 per cent of the maximum possible on these issues, Pfizer managed only 39 per cent. GlaxoSmithKline, the best performer, scored 84.

London-based CoreRatings said one of Pfizer’s main weaknesses was its strong support for international patent protection of drugs, a position others have relaxed, and its relative lack of transparency on differential pricing.

GSK was praised for ‘excellent disclosure’, its differential pricing policies, especially on HIV/Aids drugs in South Africa, and its ‘generous’ record on drug donations , which in 2002 were the equivalent of 1.6 per cent of turnover.

CoreRatings claims the better performers are a lower investment risk because they are better managed, less likely to suffer reputational damage, and less open to legal action.

It said the firms could learn much from a company outside the 11 – Novo Nordisk – with its ‘progressive’ policies in developing countries. The study took account of the companies’ differing exposures to developing-country markets.


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