Ethical reputations of top pharma firms revealed

By Kirsty Barnes

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bristol-myers squibb, Pharmaceutical industry, Johnson & johnson

The latest ethical reputations of the world's largest
pharmaceutical companies have been revealed, with GlaxoSmithKline
(GSK) emerging as big pharma's Mother Theresa, according to a
recently-released compilation by Geneva-based ethical-monitoring
firm Covalence.

Interestingly, earning power and ethical nature do not necessarily appear to go hand in hand. Covalence has published its quarterly ethical reputation ranking, highlighting the top 10 highest-ranking pharmaceutical companies, as well as those which have made the most progress in the first quarter of 2007, and the companies who have received the most positive news coverage. Covalence said its ethical quotation system (EthicalQuote) is a reputation index based on quantifying qualitative data, which are classified according to 45 criteria of business contribution to human development such as labour standards, waste management, product social utility or human rights policy. The system integrates thousands of documents found among media, enterprise, non-government organisation (NGO) and other sources, for producing the EthicalQuote curves, which measure the historical evolution of the reputation of companies regarding ethical issues. UK-based firm GSK came out top on Covalence's ethical ladder, followed by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Johnson & Johnson (J&J). However, based on the rankings, it would appear that the amount of revenue a company earns does not correspond to its ethical reputation: Pfizer, the world's highest revenue-generating drug company, only placed fourth on the ethical table, while the next highest earner, Sanofi-Aventis only just scraped into the ethical top 10, as did Merck & Co, which is sixth-largest in terms of revenue. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca which is the fourth-largest revenue generator was nowhere to be seen - although it did place eighth on the best progress tally - and neither was Wyeth, sitting in tenth spot in terms of earning power. On the other hand, GSK, the third top-earner, placed first on the ethical list, and also managed to grab position nine in the ethical rankings of multinational companies across all industry sectors. Other companies that ethically outperformed their revenue position were J&J (fifth-largest earner, third on the ethics table); Novartis (seventh in earnings, fifth in ethics); Roche (sixth in earnings, eighth in ethics) and BMS which jumped up from being the ninth-largest company in terms of revenue but the second in terms of ethical reputation. In addition, two other firms who don't quite make the top 10 "rich list" (they are twelth and thirteenth respectively) manage to make the top 10 "ethical list" instead: Abbott Laboratories and Boehringer Ingelheim (positions seven and eight). Rank Best EthicalQuote Score Best EthicalQuote Progress Best Reported Performance 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 GlaxoSmithKline Bristol-Myers Squibb Johnson & Johnson Pfizer Novartis Roche Abbott Laboratories Boehringer Ingelheim Merck & Co Sanofi-Aventis Sanofi-Aventis Johnson & Johnson Bristol-Myers Squibb Roche Schering Plough Boehringer Ingelheim GlaxoSmithKline AstraZeneca Takeda Pharmaceutical Merck & Co Sanofi-Aventis Novartis Johnson & Johnson Merck & Co Pfizer Bristol-Myers Squibb GlaxoSmithKline Boehringer Ingelheim Abbott Laboratories Eli Lilly Top 10 pharma companies (2005 revenues) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pfizer Sanofi-Aventis GlaxoSmithKline AstraZeneca Johnson & Johnson Merck & Co Novartis Roche Bristol-Myers Squibb Wyeth

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