Roche lays out access ambitions in its ESG strategies, including innovation and value goals
Roche laid out its ambitions in the social part of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy on Monday centered on access to its drugs and diagnostics.
The Roche inaugural Access to Healthcare investor call follows a general pharma industry trend in ESG. More companies are publishing reports and holding calls to outline climate, societal, diversity, and even pricing goals as investors clamor for details amid surging interest in ESG commitments.
RBC Capital Markets predicted last year that the pharma sector is poised to raise its historically poor ratings in the booming ESG investment market – now more than $820 million in assets under management. Covid pandemic reputation gains, along with declining litigation, improving drug pricing accountability and more management involvement in ESG issues could contribute to a positive change, RBC said in a report.
On Monday, Roche executives outlined its targets – in some cases reiterating or updating them – while also pointing out what it has accomplished when it comes to access across its meds and diagnostics. That starts with innovation across all patient populations, Bruno Eschli, Roche’s head of investor relations, said.
“Access is not a topic specific to just one geography, but rather every country whether low-income or high-income country faces its own special challenges,” he said.
For upper-middle and high income countries, for instance, increasing health costs, healthcare procedure backlogs and a lack of healthcare workers are concerns Roche is trying to address, while in low-middle income countries it faces challenges such as a lack of healthcare infrastructure, low awareness and diagnoses rates, and general economic pressures.
While the Covid-19 pandemic worsened issues for both groups, Roche sees some bright spots. Those include economic growth and a growing middle class in the upper income countries, along with adoption of telehealth and cross-country collaborations in lower income countries.
Separating its diagnostic and pharmaceutical divisions, Roche’s executives reiterated top-level pharma goals to double Roche medical advances by 2030 and to double low- and middle-income patient enrollment by 2026, and in diagnostics to double patient access by 2030.
Along with its accomplishments for 2021, Roche listed 16.4 million people treated with Roche meds, 27 billion Roche diagnostic tests conducted, 80 new molecules in development and a representation of 44% women across its management teams.
Michael Oberreiter, Roche head of global access for its pharma division noted the pandemic problem and especially its impact on universal health coverage, which by the World Health Organization’s definition is essential quality health services for all without creating financial hardship. Today, 50% of the world’s population lack access to essential healthcare, he said, while 100 million enter into poverty because of out-of-pocket health care costs.
“We’re quite aware that value really lies in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “We do not claim and know we don’t own the definition. But what we think we do own and where we place our accountability is in the need to raise awareness for the different dimensions of value – its societal value, HCP value, and patient and caregiver value and have a robust dialogue with all the stakeholders.”