Fair Insurance Guide. Taming Big Pharma: Assessing How Insurers Push Pharmaceutical Companies to Improve Access to Medicine and Pay Fair Taxes. 25 April 2019
(2019; 95 pages)

The Fair Insurance Guide is a coalition of the following organisations: Amnesty International, FNV, Milieudefensie, Oxfam Novib, PAX and World Animal Protection.

Resumen

Access to medicine is a fundamental aspect of the human right to health. Yet there has been a flood of news stories and scandals in recent years about unethical price gouging by pharmaceutical companies charging exorbitant prices for life-saving medicines. The high price of medicines is also a serious problem in low- and middle-income countries. Many medicines remain prohibitively expensive for many of the world’s poor, who lack insurance and must pay for medicines out of their own pockets. Access to medicine in low- and middle-income countries is also limited due to severe underspending on research and development of medicines for diseases that predominantly affect poor people. This is due in part to the fact that future sales may not yield enough profit for pharmaceutical companies. In addition, Oxfam research has found that pharmaceutical companies are massively shifting their profits to tax havens. In 2016, the four largest US pharmaceutical companies – Pfizer, Merck & Co, Abbott and Johnson & Johnson – made US$ 352 billion in tax-free profits on foreign accounts. These pharmaceutical companies provide little public information about where they make their profits and where they pay taxes.

As part of their responsibility as investors, insurance companies are expected to use their leverage and encourage the pharmaceutical companies in which they invest to provide affordable medicines to those who need them and pay their fair share of taxes. Insurers are also expected to communicate to their stakeholders and the public about their engagement with pharmaceutical companies on the issue of provision of affordable medicine, the results of this engagement, and their voting record on the issue.

This study assesses the role played by nine insurance companies – Achmea, Aegon, Allianz, ASR, CZ, Menzis, NN Group, VIVAT and VGZ – as institutional investors on two major responsible business conduct issues concerning the pharmaceutical sector: affordable pricing of medicines and the fair payment of taxes by pharmaceutical companies. In total, these nine insurance companies have combined investments worth over € 14 billion in 19 selected pharmaceutical companies, giving the insurers both a responsibility and an opportunity to address these important issues with pharmaceutical companies.

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