Ethical Performance
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Pharma firm Merck to subsidise clean water in India to help fight disease

May 2012

The pharmaceuticals giant Merck has joined forces with an NGO to improve access to water and reduce the impact of water-borne disease in India.

Merck, which is tackling a CSR issue not usually associated with its core business, has started a three-year project with the Safe Water Network. It is investing $1.5m (£940,000, €1.14m) to secure safe water access for communities in Andhra Pradesh, where about 80% of disease is related to water contamination and poor sanitation.

The Safe Water Network’s existing development of locally owned and operated water purification systems will be expanded, and efforts will be made to increase demand for clean water and raise awareness of its importance.

The project shows another facet of the increasing importance of water as a CSR issue. Merck, a signatory to the UN’s CEO Water Mandate initiative, will use its core business expertise and employee social responsibility programmes to drive the project.

K G Ananthakrishnan, managing director of Merck’s Indian operations, said: “Clean water is fundamental to the world’s health and to Merck’s mission of fighting disease and helping the world be well. Nowhere is this more true than in India, which faces a significant challenge related to clean water.”

Merck’s help is expected to provide safe water access for up to 30,000 people. The Safe Water Network, founded by the actor and philanthropist Paul Newman in 2007, said the project “demonstrates how companies like Merck can play an important role in developing solutions to global water challenges”.

 Bayer has been ordered in India to license a patented drug to another company. Despite the industry’s efforts on access to medicine in recent years, the Indian government has, with its first compulsory licensing decision, authorised third-party manufacturing of a generic copy of a Bayer cancer drug, saying the multinational has made it unaffordable to most patients.

Merck | Asia | Water


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