A day in the life of an environmental manager…

I have to admit that I just love a work-day like this one! This morning we will have a meeting with the local environment, health and safety (EHS) committee at the Swedish Pfizer headquarter in Sollentuna. And in the afternoon, we have a meeting with LIF’s (the association of the research based pharmaceutical industry in Sweden) environmental committee.

This means that the morning discussions are devoted to local EHS challenges such as ventilation issues, slip, trip and fall risks, ergonomic issues, and fire life safety. Issues that are very concrete and where all actions taken are visible almost directly in our local work environment. Very stimulating!

But if I, as an environmental manager in a multinational company like Pfizer, would not be challenged with more global EHS issues I would not be very satisfied in the long run. Hence, I am very pleased to participate in LIF’s environmental committee meeting later today. On the agenda we’ll find issues such as

- the proposal to include three active pharmaceutical ingredients on the list of priority substances within the EU Water Framework Directive,

- the environmental initiatives within the National Pharmaceutical Strategy, e.g.
— Sofia Wallström’s review whether or not environmental considerations should be taken in the Swedish pricing and re-imbursement system and
— the design of green criteria for pharmaceutical products and green economic incentives (i.e. the project I lead on my part time assigment at LIF)

- the All Party Committee on Environemntal Objectives and their initiatives around Pharmaceuticals and the Environment as part of their work with ”A Non-Toxic Environment”

- the Globe Forum Event on April 26, when we hope to see several interesting innovations within the field of pharmaceutucals and the environment (presumably with a focus on waste water treatment)

- the campaign on unused medicines which is ongoing at all Swedish pharmacies in March and April

Looking forward to the meetings today! It will be both fun and interesting!

If you want to read more on these issues please use the following links to some earlier blog posts: Nov 29, 2011, Jan 9, 2012Jan 24, 2012, Feb 21, 2012, and March 19, 2012.

Urbanization, Growth, and Sustainable Development

Stockholm Chamber of Commerce arranged a breakfast seminar today in Sollentuna (in conjunction with the Board Meeting of the local section of the Chamber of Commerce in Sollentuna/Kista) with their managing director Maria Ranka. Maria’s topic of the day was the global trend of urbanization and the importance of growth in cities to drive growth for entire countries.

Maria Ranka

Maria Ranka

Maria showed several examples on urbanization and the creation of huge cities around the globe. That trend is most likely un-stoppable, and most likely not even something that we would like to stop. There are good reasons to believe that there are positive effects both socially and environmentally with urbanization. Nevertheless, both urbanization and economic growth are very often questioned from the sustainability perspective. Maria’s message is that if we manage the trend of urbanization correctly, there is no doubt that the positive effects are greater than the negative effects. If we look on the ecological footprint per capita it is clear that cities have smaller footprint than the country-side. But we need to secure that long-term investment strategies when it comes to infrastructure, public transportation, building of residencial houses and commercial facilities etc. are developed intelligently!

I really liked the discussion, and it is crucial for the future. The trend of urbanization will not stop and hence we need to understand and manage the trend in order to utilize all the great possibilities we see. I also believe that financial growth is extremely important, and hence also needs to be done in a sustainable way (which actually is the basis for sustainable development…).

After Maria’s discussion we continued with a Board meeting with the Sollentuna/Kista section of the Chamber. I have been part of the Boeard for a few years and have realized that this work is very positive when it comes to secure sustainable development. Enterprises are part of the solution on sustainability, we are not the problem!

Counterfeit medicines, or Förfalskade läkemedel in Swedish

Yesterday’s issue of the newspaper Metro (front page and page 2) discusses the problems with counterfeit medicines (in Swedish: ”Förfalskade läkemedel”) and internet pharmacies (in Swedish: ”Internetapotek”). It is a huge problem and the money involved are estimated to exceed the amount from the narcotics business for criminal gangs! And it is really not surprising since the risks involved for the criminals are fairly low when dealing with counterfiet pharmaceuticals compared to e.g. narcotics.

The establishing of a large number of easily accessible internet pharmacies, very often believed to be real authorized pharmacies by the public, has increased the business very rapidly.

Is is an important part of the credibility of the pharmaceutical industry, and for pharmaceuticals as such and good value of medical treatments, that these counterfeited medicines are found and destroyed. In many cases, the best thing you could hope for is that the counterfeit medicines do not have any effect what so ever. In many cases however, they are very toxic… The could for instance consist of lead and paint. Definitely not healthy! And it will definitely not cure your diseases…

Increased awareness of the problem is crucial. And hence, articles such as the one in Metro are very welcome. But I also suggest that you take a look on the following web page: crimemedicine.com

A pretty horrifying story isn’t it? Pfizer collaborates with e.g. MPA and other authorities and police and customs around the world to fight counterfeiting. Read more via this link.

Empowered patients

Stakeholder dialogues are an important part of all CSR programs (Corporate Social Responsibility). To discuss with stakeholders helps forming programs and initiatives in order to reach the objectives set up.

Today and yesterday I have had very interesting discussions with our peer companies within LIF (The Swedish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry) and others stakeholders regarding patient empowerment. The empowered patient has been discussed for some years, and several trends in Swedish as well as in other markets underlines the importance of empowerment, e.g.:

- more and more information is available on-line, information that may change the ”power balance” in the relation between a physician and his/her patient,

- the ability for EU-citizens to seek health-care in other EU-countries, and

- the ”patient choice reform” in Sweden, where patients can chose the supplier of their health-care (regardless whether it is privately or publicly operated).

But was does it really mean with an ”empowered patient”. In my opinion the patient needs both the ability to make the choices and the information needed to make those choices correctly. And how do patients get hold of the needed information? What responsibility does the pharmaceutical industry have, and what are the responsibilities of PAGs (Patient Advocacy Groups) and government respectively?

We also discussed the potential difference between strong individual empowered patients and strong PAGs. Strong individual empowered patients probably rest on strong patient right regulations whereas a strong position for the Patent Advocacy Groups could more rely on clear and transparent processes for how decisons are made within agencies, County Councils and in other parts of the health-care sector.

I look forward to continuing discussions on Patient Empowerment, which in my view is closely linked to a lot of other areas in our CSR programs. Examples of such programs are:

- health promotion and different types of prevention initiatives,

- a wider usage of patient support programs, and

- consumer preference for ”green branded pharmaceuticals”.

We have now started the planning for Earth Hour 2011

It feels pretty good that, at the same time as the start-up of the UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, we have had a first discussion on Earth Hour 2011 here in Sweden. Earth Hour is WWF’s campaign regarding claimate change. I participated today in a meeting together with several other company representatives and Barbara Evaeus, project manager for Earth Hour in WWF Sweden.

Earth Hour 2011 will take place on March 26, 20.30 – 21.30. But before talking about Earth Hour 2011, Barbara gave us some key numbers for Earth Hour 2010:

- 128 countries participated, and 4616 cities. More than a billion people around the globe were reached by the event!

- 53% of the Swedish population participated in Earth Hour, and 97% of the Swedes had heard about the initiative. 73% said they were positive to Earth Hour.

- Of the Swedish companies who participated 2010, 68% felt that the initiative increased the engagement for fighting climate change among the employees, 53% said it helped in energy saving programs, and 43% said it was a very important signal to politicians.

Pfizer Sweden uses the Earth Hour initiative to increase awareness – focusing our own colleagues primarily – of our environmental programs in general and our climate change efforts specifically. If you are interested, please read my blog posts from last year’s week leading up to Earth Hour (March 22, March 23, March 24, March 25, March 26) and the blog post from the day after (March 28). And yes, they are all in Swedish, but you might recognize me playing the violin…

Concert during Earth Hour 2010

Concert during Earth Hour 2010

There were a lot of different ideas for activities during Earth Hour 2011. And it will be very interesting to see how the ideas develop. The motto for Earth Hour 2011 will be ”beyond the hour”, i.e. how do we secure that the engagement and the awareness created gives results ”beyond the hour”. To get inspired already please view the Earth Hour 2011 Official Video, and sign on for participation.