japanja
Engagement with Roche: What's in it for the company?

Engagement with Roche: What's in it for the company?

17-07-2018 | インサイト

Active ownership: a time-consuming burden, or a useful exercise? To find out how companies look at this, Robeco talked to Alexander Klauser, Head of Sustainability Communications at Swiss healthcare company Roche.

  • Carola van Lamoen
    Carola
    van Lamoen
    Head of Active Ownership

Speed read

 
  • Engagement on ESG in biopharmaceutical companies closed 
  • Companies learn what matters to investors 
  • Investors’ questions are an important input for discussions within the company 

Robeco’s active ownership team recently concluded an engagement on ESG risks and opportunities in the biopharmaceutical industry. Roche was one of the eleven companies under engagement. Robeco talked to Alexander Klauser about five material topics, i.e. innovation management, product quality & safety management, business ethics, clinical trial transparency and access to medicine.

サステナビリティに関する最新の「インサイト」を読む
サステナビリティに関する最新の「インサイト」を読む
配信登録

Innovative medicines tend to be expensive, which is the subject of heavy debate in society. What is your take on this?

“Medicines account for only a small part of health costs (16%, WHO 2017). When we do our job right – extend patients’ lives – we help to reduce the other

“In our pricing, we strive for the right balance between ensuring people have access to the medicines they need, while investing in future breakthroughs. We have a very high threshold for new medicines. It’s no use developing a subpar product which will not deliver additional benefit for patients. Our business is a lot more riskier than ten years ago, and as a company we need to earn a premium to take this risk. After all, we might fail in certain medicines and when this happens, we need to have the financial power to carry on. We have open discussions about this with our stakeholders.

During our engagement, we spoke about product quality & safety management. What did you take away from our conversations?

“We know that quality and safety – not harming patients – are our license to operate. We are among the most highly regulated industries. We appreciate that you flagged this topic, as it confirmed the high importance we attach to it. In our talks, you highlighted very important issues, such as product recalls. You made us more aware that any warning letter or recall will result in Roche being punished by the market.”

20 years ago, the pharmaceutical industry did not have the best reputation in terms of business ethics. Which concrete actions has Roche taken to improve this?

“We can exclude systematic, but we cannot exclude individual violations. However, we guarantee that we do not turn a blind eye if things go wrong. There is zero tolerance, and any wrongdoing will be sanctioned. To enable our company to operate with high standards, we transformed from ‘formal compliance’ to ‘business-integrated sustainable compliance’. For example, we do not simply record payments we make to doctors and hospitals, but our line management critically examines the purpose of the payments. Why are we making these payments? What is their impact on society? Being transparent about this creates trust.”

Are there any initiatives to improve transparency on clinical trials?

“We share information on all Roche-sponsored safety and efficacy studies, also when the outcome is negative. This helps physicians, patients and healthcare providers to make informed treatment decisions. It can also enable researchers to build on our research and that of others, in the hope of advancing scientific progress. We are making progress but acknowledge that our work is far from complete. We are committed to working with industry partners and others in the scientific community to advance opportunities for data sharing.

“The engagement with you confirmed that it doesn’t help healthcare if companies are not transparent about their clinical trials. We have to address this as an industry.” 

Finally, we talked about access to medicine. What did our discussions reveal on this topic?

“Access to our products is a critical part of our strategy. Also from a business perspective, it’s important to know how we can get the medicine and tests to people who really need it. Many patients lack access to the most essential health services. Often, the problem lies not only in the price of medicines but also in the system - for example, if the medical infrastructure or mandatory health insurance is lacking. The only way to achieve enduring solutions is working together in each country to ensure that all factors such as awareness, diagnosis, healthcare capacity and funding are addressed. We have access plans for 75 countries.

“In addition, access to medicine needs to be tackled by multiple stakeholders. Certain governments, for example, allocate more money to military purposes than to medicine. They should reevaluate their priorities and look beyond the next elections. In countries with little money to spend, we work with insurance companies to find financial solutions and make sure people get the medicine they need.

“In our discussions, you made us aware of the importance of transparency. We now make our internal access goals publicly available.

How did our other work over the past three years add value to Roche?

“You really pointed our attention to questions that you as investors have. This makes us more aware of what you need. We now have a more integrated way of talking about our business, addressing both financial and non-financial issues. All our employees are subject to impact analysis in their performance review. This is in line with your focus on impact investing, as you explained during our conversations. Also, the questions we get from investors such as Robeco form an important input for our discussions within the company.

“What was particularly insightful was your input on the impact of our business on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have a strategy that aims to make a ‘net positive impact on society’. Our honest discussions about the UN SDGs helped our internal processes. In short, our work with you continues to support Roche in staying ahead of the curve on sustainability.

重要事項

当資料は情報提供を目的として、Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V.が作成した英文資料、もしくはその英文資料をロベコ・ジャパン株式会社が翻訳したものです。資料中の個別の金融商品の売買の勧誘や推奨等を目的とするものではありません。記載された情報は十分信頼できるものであると考えておりますが、その正確性、完全性を保証するものではありません。意見や見通しはあくまで作成日における弊社の判断に基づくものであり、今後予告なしに変更されることがあります。運用状況、市場動向、意見等は、過去の一時点あるいは過去の一定期間についてのものであり、過去の実績は将来の運用成果を保証または示唆するものではありません。また、記載された投資方針・戦略等は全ての投資家の皆様に適合するとは限りません。当資料は法律、税務、会計面での助言の提供を意図するものではありません。

ご契約に際しては、必要に応じ専門家にご相談の上、最終的なご判断はお客様ご自身でなさるようお願い致します。

運用を行う資産の評価額は、組入有価証券等の価格、金融市場の相場や金利等の変動、及び組入有価証券の発行体の財務状況による信用力等の影響を受けて変動します。また、外貨建資産に投資する場合は為替変動の影響も受けます。運用によって生じた損益は、全て投資家の皆様に帰属します。したがって投資元本や一定の運用成果が保証されているものではなく、投資元本を上回る損失を被ることがあります。弊社が行う金融商品取引業に係る手数料または報酬は、締結される契約の種類や契約資産額により異なるため、当資料において記載せず別途ご提示させて頂く場合があります。具体的な手数料または報酬の金額・計算方法につきましては弊社担当者へお問合せください。

当資料及び記載されている情報、商品に関する権利は弊社に帰属します。したがって、弊社の書面による同意なくしてその全部もしくは一部を複製またはその他の方法で配布することはご遠慮ください。

商号等: ロベコ・ジャパン株式会社  金融商品取引業者 関東財務局長(金商)第2780号

加入協会: 一般社団法人 日本投資顧問業協会

本記事に関連するテーマ: