After the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, companies across industries are stepping in to support employees who need to cross state lines for legal abortions. From Disney to Bank of America, Sanofi to BeiGene, many companies are coming out to say they'll reimburse employee travel fees for abortion services.
Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota have already banned abortion, with states such as Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wyoming planning to ban it within 30 days after the SCOTUS ruling. Many other states are likely to follow.
So far, several biopharma companies have made public statements on the topic after the SCOTUS decision.
Gilead Sciences—not to be confused with Gilead, the totalitarian regime in "The Handmaid’s Tale"—was quick to make a public statement. Following the Friday decision, the company said improving health equity has always been core to its mission, including “removing barriers faced by women, transgender individuals, and other groups who are disproportionally impacted." Gilead said it believes medical decisions are deeply personal and should be made by individuals. Gilead’s medical plan covers reimbursement of travel and lodging expenses for U.S. employees who need to travel out of state to receive reproductive health services.
Meanwhile, BeiGene on LinkedIn unveiled a new benefit for U.S. employees. For employees or their dependents who don't have access to legal reproductive services in their home state, BeiGene will cover travel expenses.
“While we recognize people may have different viewpoints about Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, we believe our U.S. colleagues should have access to the same healthcare options as others regardless of where they live; and we are committed to ensuring they have consistent and safe access to the benefits we provide,” the company stated in the post.
Sanofi was also quick to reassure employees. The company supports the right for “all people to be able to exercise control over their own bodies,” and finds that progress and equality are “intertwined, fundamental, and worth defending and protecting," according to an email obtained by Fierce Pharma.
Sanofi pledges to cover travel and lodging for employees and dependents to access “certain healthcare services and treatments that may not be available locally” in response to the ruling. The company also asked that employees respect each other’s privacy and right to make their own healthcare decisions, as well as focus on being inclusive “every day through our words and actions.”
Novartis, for its part, is “carefully evaluating” how the ruling may impact care for its associates. Family planning services are covered under the company’s medical program, “regardless of where the services are rendered within the U.S.” Should services be inaccessible within employees’ home states, the company will “make accommodations,” a Novartis spokesperson told Fierce Pharma via email.
Bristol Myers Squibb said it in a statement that it is “committed to promoting a culture of inclusion and a deep sense of belonging where every employee is heard and their unique perspective is valued,” adding that the company has a “long-standing commitment to health equity." The company is evaluating and monitoring the implications of the ruling and will continue listening to its workforce, a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, GSK acknowledged the “far-reaching implications and impact” of the SCOTUS decision in a statement to Fierce Pharma. The company said it remains “committed to continuing to offer coverage for reproductive health including contraception and abortion,” including travel and lodging benefits “to the full extent permitted by law in the US and Puerto Rico.”
For its part, Johnson & Johnson said in an emailed statement that it “strives to improve access and affordability” as the world’s most broadly-based healthcare company.
“We believe healthcare decisions are best determined by individuals in consultation with their healthcare provider," a spokesperson said. "We offer reimbursement for travel expenses to U.S. employees and their families for eligible medical services not available from any in-network or out-of-network provider within 100 miles of the patient’s home,” including cell therapy, gene therapy, organ transplantation, and reproductive healthcare.
Eli Lilly and Amgen did not offer comments at the time and Pfizer’s request for comment was not answered at the time of publishing.