Big Pharma is quietly stepping up to provide critical supplies of essential medicines, other health equipment, and skilled local personnel to areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan this month. Although industry operations in the Philippines appear largely intact, most companies are working through global humanitarian aid organizations due to the logistical challenges created by the collapse of infrastructure on the ground. Actions have been largely unpublicized to date; PhRMA spokesman Mark Grayson tells Pharm Exec that this is more or less deliberate and is indicative of the industry’s overall desire to be “a willing and reliable partner in times of disaster.”
Typical of the response are decisions taken by GSK and Merck in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon’s landfall on November 8. GSK’s local affiliate has given a cash gift of approximately $25,000 to the Philippines Red Cross for food, water, blankets and shelter. In addition, the company is donating medicines and consumer health products to local aid networks; GSK’s primary humanitarian aid partner, AmeriCares, is airlifting consignments of GSK registered antibiotics from pre-positioned stocks.
Merck has made cash donations of $100,000 each to the American Red Cross, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee, all for general relief. It has also established a company micro-site to provide a 100 per cent match for employee donations in support of the recovery efforts. Finally, staff are working with partners involved in the Merck Medical Outreach Program [MMOP] to evaluate specific product donations to address public health interventions as they arise.