As resource consumption grows, several industries including the pharmaceutical industry are under pressure to implement sustainable practices.

Verdict has conducted a poll to understand the sustainability areas that pharmaceutical industry needs to address the most.

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Environmental sustainability was voted as the area that needs to be addressed the most by the pharmaceutical industry, according to 43% of the respondents. Climate change was considered as the most pressing environmental issue by 52% of the respondents who voted for environmental sustainability, followed by pollution (32%), natural resources (11%), and biodiversity (5%).

Sustainability pharmaceutical industry

Social sustainability was voted as the area that needs to be addressed the most by 31% of the respondents. Within social sustainability, health and safety was voted as the most pressing social issue by 49% of the respondents, followed by human rights (25%), community impact (16%), diversity and inclusion (9%).

The remaining 26% of the respondents voted that sustainability in governance is the key area that needs to be addressed by the pharmaceutical industry. Corporate structure was considered as the most pressing governance issue, as voted by 39% of the respondents. Corruption and bribery, ethics, and risk management were the other governance issues voted by 28%, 17% and 16% of the respondents respectively.

The analysis is based on 434 responses received from the readers of Pharmaceutical Technology, a Verdict network site, for a poll conducted between 12 January 2020 and 16 February 2021.

Increasing need for sustainability in the pharmaceutical industry

The need to implement sustainability in the pharmaceutical has gained traction in recent times as the industry produces a significant amount of waste and greenhouse gases, apart from utilising huge volumes of water.

High energy consumption, diverse supply chains, environmental pollution are some of the environmental factors that need to be addressed by the industry. By improving production processes and optimising supply chains, the industry can not only enhance value but also ensure environmental sustainability.

The industry can ensure social sustainability by focusing on providing access to affordable medicines and treatments to developing countries with poor and underfunded healthcare systems.

Sustainability with respect to governance in the pharmaceutical industry should focus on product quality, and open association with healthcare professionals and patients. Companies need to adopt ethical standards combined with patient-oriented business model, while leveraging digital technology.

Regulation and government policy can play a key role in ensuring compliance in the industry. Governments should provide incentives for implementing sustainable practices, while also imposing punishments for failing to comply.