The pharmaceutical industry and its impact on sustainability and the economy

21 September, 2022 Logistics supply chain optimization by industry

The pharmaceutical industry has a major impact on life development in general, throughout societies worldwide. In other words, its impact is not only notable and relevant to people's health, but to economies and the environment. 

Sustainable logistics in the pharmaceutical industry

Reducing the ecological impact is already mandatory for all industries, including the pharmaceutical one. The logistics sector has taken great steps in this direction with the green or sustainable logistics and the reverse logistics.

Transportation and its routes have been rethought and redesigned to reduce CO² emissions, and the warehousing processes were too, aiming to become more sustainable. The recycling of packing and wrapping materials as well as the reuse of containers has been implemented. Also, the carbon footprint of logistics operations is calculated, so corrective measures can be taken, among many other initiatives.

Thus, logistics in the pharmaceutical industry has also seen a greater investment in less contaminating means of transportation, a better use of the warehousing potential in shipments and a greater commitment to clean technologies throughout the logistics process.


Health, engine of development and key element of the economy

After the impacts of the pandemic on the global economy, especially in developing countries, today more than ever it is clear that investment in health is essential for the economic development.

Latin America and particularly the Caribbean, in addition to having reported 30% of the deaths caused by this disease, has been the economic area which was most affected by the pandemic. International organizations such as PAHO, ECLAC and the UN have already highlighted the need for a comprehensive public health agenda that recognizes the interdependence between health, society, economy, and the environment.

In the short term, to control the health crisis, the governments of the Latin American region must remodel health systems, strengthen public investment, and consolidate welfare states, along with equality and environmental sustainability.

As specialists and leaders of several international organizations have pointed out, without health there is no sustainable economic recovery, and in general, without health there is no economy.

For this, the pharmaceutical sector is key. Mainly, in relation to the region's capacity to produce vaccines and drugs, as well as to overcome the external dependence that was faced during this pandemic.

The pandemic made evident the weaknesses of the health systems, the inequality in access to universal primary healthcare, and the chronic lack of financing for research and technological development. This prevents the expansion of existing capacities to timely produce vaccines and build a scaled drug market.

In addition to understanding health as part of the economy, public and private investment, together, must build "universal, caring and resilient" health systems.


Social responsibility and governance in the pharmaceutical sector

On the other hand, many pharmaceutical companies have lately been strongly criticized for their ethical-business behavior, which does not correspond to the corporate values that they usually state in their mission. They have suffered several crises of public legitimacy that have contributed to the increasing society demands for more governance and transparency in this sector, as well as greater corporate social responsibility (CSR), accountability and ethical commitment to society and the communities in which they operate and have any influence.

Many practices must change in this sector to be more sustainable and better contribute to the financial balance of health systems, for example:

  • The benefit orientation.

  • Some of the commercial innovation strategies of large pharmaceutical companies in current business patterns.

  • The preferred orientation to drugs.

  • The non-transparent dynamics used to extend patents on top-selling products.

  • The neglect of diseases in poor countries.

  • The distortion of reality about cost-effective results research in clinical practice.

  • As well as the wealthy accumulation of capital and the high financial compensation for management teams.

The right to health must be above the economic interests of pharmaceutical companies, as well as promote a better balance between innovation and prices, and a patent system that benefits developing countries.


The challenges for the pharmaceutical industry in Brazil

In the Brazilian scenario, the pharmaceutical industry has obtained higher success rates than other sectors. However, it also faces its own challenges.

The first of these has to do with listening to and understanding communities in the midst of legislation, discussion and greater public awareness about the identification and manipulation of personal data for commercial or political purposes.

Another challenge is related to the need for pharmaceutical companies to assume an instructional role, to counteract fake news and the damage they cause, such as the resurgence of diseases that were under control, as well as damage to companies in the vaccine sector because of anti-vaccine movements.

With transparency, investing in informative communication and renouncing the spotlight, the pharmaceutical industry is able of building a legacy to guide the next communities’ steps safely and effectively.

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