Opposing Short-Termism

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-07-01-2021, Volume 41, Issue 7

Recent roundtable highlights need for biopharma to enter ESG conversation.

In June, the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose® (CECP), along with the Biopharma Sustainability Roundtable (BSRT), joined forces to present the Biopharma CEO Investor Forum. While the CECP regularly holds investor forums of CEOs from multiple industries, this event specifically focused on biopharma, and CEOs from small to large pharma participated. Central to CECP and the BSRT is environmental, social, and governance (ESG). ESG initiatives among the S&P 500 are more developed, as they have the resources, as well as longer exposure to the community of public company investors who have largely adopted ESG as a means to determine all-over stakeholder value. That is, to escape the short-termism of current equity markets that overvalue short-term targets vs. long-term initiatives that drive corporate value.

As we have learned over the past year from our Sustainability columnist, Sandor Schoichet, co-founder of BSRT, biopharma needs to collectively show up and put its hat in the ESG ring so as not to risk being dictated to or limited to metrics that don’t properly reflect the industry. For example, climate change issues are a concern, but more so for the utilities sector. Whereas biopharma’s ESG centers closely with patient access to medicines and pricing, as well as diversity and inclusion, R&D, and attracting talent
for innovation.

Biopharma CEOs presenting at the Biopharma CEO Investor Forum included alumni presenter Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline; Christophe Weber, CEO of Takeda; and Ken Frazier, taking a victory lap in his closing days as CEO at Merck. Other CEOs included Paul Hudson from Sanofi; Hervé Hoppenot of Incyte; Pfizer’s Albert Bourla; his mRNA COVID vaccine companion-in-arms Stéphane Bancel of Moderna; and UCB leader Jean-Christophe Tellier.

For more information about the trends, concerns, and long-term visions from these companies, please see this article.

Lisa Henderson is Pharm Exec’s Editor-in-Chief. She can be reached at lhenderson@mjhlifesciences.com.