InFocus: Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology

ISS ESG InFocus: Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology


  • The Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology (PH&BIO) industry is part of the solution to global health challenges, with products and services that contribute to the social dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals. It has a relatively large share of Prime-rated companies (27%).
  • In contrast to these social benefits, there is little evidence that the environmental risks of the PH&BIO industry’s operations and incidental activities are being actively managed, including challenges arising from water management due to pharmaceutical residues in the environment.
  • The PH&BIO industry is relatively less carbon intensive than other industries, but its impact is still significant, with the emission reduction approach of companies in the sector offering a key point of leverage for investors looking to take action on climate change.
  • Most of the severe controversies faced by the Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology industry are high-profile cases involving anti-competitive behavior, bribery, consumer health, water pollution, and consumer rights.
  • Access to health care is a key risk for investors to monitor. Underserved populations often lack access to the beneficial products and services that the Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology industry provides. The level of access to products and services impacts the industry’s absolute contribution to sustainable development.

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