United Church Funds, along with investor members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, sent letters to the CEOs of 14 pharmaceutical companies, calling for a collaborative approach in the development of health technologies, including diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine in the global fight against COVID-19.

The letter was sent to AbbVie, Amgen, Biogen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer, Novartis, Roche, Sanofi and Vertex.

Socially responsible investors recognize that we are experiencing an unprecedented pandemic that is exacting a devastating toll on people worldwide and challenging the health care structures and systems that enable all of us to thrive. Given the critical role that the pharmaceutical industry plays in the research and development of health technologies, investors urge these companies to consider the following:

  1. Adopt a collaborative approach to the design and delivery of health technologies.
  2. Govern with financial prudence and a commitment to uphold your social license to operate by ensuring affordable access for all. To date, the U.S .government has refused to assure that any vaccines or treatments for COVID-19 would be affordable for all, which is unacceptable. To that end, investors expect companies to govern with the highest financial ethics responsibility.
  3. Maintain a commitment to data quality and patient safety. Companies should continue to emphasize the need to evaluate the safety, quality and appropriate use of products while accelerating both research and delivery. While speeding up the development of vaccines and medicines is of the utmost urgency, this should not come at the expense of patient safety.

Several companies have already demonstrated they are up to the task. For example, the Gates Foundation recently announced that several companies had made commitments to collaborate to help identify and scale solutions to the pandemic.

“The pharma companies in which we invest should exist to improve health outcomes for all,” said Kathryn McCloskey, UCF Director of Social Responsibility. “We are grateful to see that some companies are realizing that the long game here is to quickly and safely scale up COVID-19 testing, treatments and potential vaccines without attempting to maximize profit. We hope that this mode of collaboration and urgency continues in the healthcare industry for the sake of global public health.”

Click here to read the letter or click here to read the press release.