I was speaking to a friend recently about a perception many have of
pharmaceutical companies, and the impact of this industry on society.
Incredulously, my friend rattled off a list of Novo Nordisk’s
initiatives—striving for 100 per cent renewable production sites,
investing in research, partnering with patient groups. My friend asked
whether these pursuits, while valuable, are all just to support an end
goal of selling medicines.
I told him, as I’ll write here, that our primary
objective is to develop and market treatments. Treatments that
help people live longer, fuller lives. Yes, we must be financially
responsible to enable the research and development that brings about
medicines that are better tolerated, have greater efficacy, and are
easier to use. Yes, pharmaceutical companies must generate revenue to
do this. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all for-profit industries
saved lives, while also pursuing zero environmental impact and
supporting non-profits to achieve their missions? As I’ve said before,
it’s all connected.
Novo Nordisk is publicly owned, however, it has a unique shareholder
structure. The majority of the voting rights are controlled by the Novo
Nordisk Foundation. The Foundation has two key objectives – to
provide a stable basis for commercial and research activities and to
support, through grants, scientific, social and humanitarian projects.
Ultimately, our measure of success at Novo Nordisk is threefold, and
closely tied to our values. We are dedicated to widespread impact
through our outputs—so dedicated, in fact, that these interests are
entrenched in our operations through the Novo Nordisk Way, and within
it, the Triple Bottom Line.
As I mentioned in my first blog
post, the Novo Nordisk Way is the set of principles that guides
our decisions as a company. The Triple Bottom Line, meanwhile,
is our way of doing business:
balancing financial, social and environmental considerations. Maintaining
this balance ensures Novo Nordisk remains sustainable, able to make a
lasting and material impact for patients.
The pillars of the Triple Bottom Line are correlated: together,
these factors make our business stronger overall. To prove this, each
year we publish an integrated report on our performance in the three
areas. Our 2018
report is now available online, and details our past and future
benchmarks as of today.
Globally, we plan to use 100 per cent renewable power at all
production sites by 2020, and aim to produce zero environmental impact
by 2030. To achieve this, we just launched the Circular
for Zero environmental strategy, which sets an ambition to
design products that can be recovered and re-used, and minimize
consumption and waste in our business practices.
Through our TakeAction initiative,
employees can support social, environmental and health causes during
working hours. Through our Cities
Changing Diabetes program, we share knowledge about how diabetes
impacts communities and resources to build a healthier future across
the globe. We are dedicated to creating partnerships with
organizations committed to social betterment and, of course, we
continue to serve the communities of those with chronic diseases by
In Canada, we host programs that inspire patients to live their
lives to the fullest, raise awareness about the impact diabetes has on
communities and provide spaces for those with the condition to come
together. We form partnerships with groups who are raising the voice
of people living with diabetes in Canada and serving the diabetes
community. In June 2018, in partnership with University Hospital
Foundation and the Government of Alberta, Ministry of Economic
Development and Trade, we established the Novo
Nordisk Alberta Diabetes Fund, to support innovation and
research to advance health outcomes in diabetes and obesity in
Alberta’s life science sector.
Through TakeAction, our Canadian colleagues participate in
activities like volunteering at the local Mississauga food bank;
sponsoring a family’s Christmas; contributing to Toy Mountain during
the holidays; participating and donating to the JDRF Revolution Ride;
and taking part in the Mississauga Marathon and the Novo Nordisk
We’re proud of the strides we’ve taken toward our business goals
under the Triple Bottom Line. Looking forward, upholding these
principles will pave the way for long-term sustainability. As I
explained to my friend, each of our bottom lines makes it possible for
us to remain sustainable and have a positive impact. While the
pharmaceutical industry may face criticism for its social returns,
Novo Nordisk continues to hold itself to a higher and higher standard.
We’re committed to positive change for patients and the planet—and
that’s our bottom line.