4. Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk
Novo lost ESG points for access and affordability after it decided to stop providing 340B drug discounts for hospitals' community-based pharmacies. (Novo Nordisk)

Novo Nordisk
Rating: +36
Notable ESG scores:
Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion (+20)
Human Rights & Community Relations (+8)
Product Quality & Safety (+5)
Access & Affordability (-3)

Novo Nordisk is another pharma company that reports its ESG efforts, maintaining an online portal detailing 18 different categories. It covers issues from energy and water consumption to business ethics and human rights.

In an ESG conference call and presentation last November, Novo Nordisk highlighted its Circular for Zero commitment in 2019 and its aspiration for zero environmental impact, along with its newer 2020 initiative, Defeat Diabetes, aimed at preventing the rise of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

In Alva’s assessment, Novo Nordisk scored well in human rights and community relations at +8. Last year, Novo “integrated human rights risks and data protection risks” into the company’s ethics risk reporting process and now requires human rights reporting—identifying, assessing, mitigating, preventing, tracking and reporting cases across all its businesses.

RELATED: Novo Nordisk, armed with Wegovy green light, preps aggressive push to build obesity market

Alva noted that Novo’s positive community relations score got a boost after it successfully proved it did not engage in age discrimination in a summary judgement affirmation by the U.S. Court of Appeals in March. The case had stemmed from the dismissal of two workers in Puerto Rico in 2016 as part of Novo’s global reorganization at the time.

The appeals court decision reinforced the original summary judgment “because there is no evidence from which a reasonable jury could reject Novo Nordisk's showing that it did not discriminate against plaintiffs based on their age.”

But in its negative tally for access and affordability, Alva flagged Novo for deciding to stop distributing prescription drugs to community-based hospital pharmacies under the 340B Drug Pricing Program.

RELATED: Novo Nordisk re-engages comedian Billy Gardell for branded Ozempic campaign

Another issue going against Novo was the ongoing insulin pricing debate and affordability problem that resurfaced in March, this time in Minnesota. It involved the industry trade group PhMRA, which was seeking to quash insulin affordability legislation that Minnesota passed last year. The law created a system for insulin makers to provide free insulin to people who couldn’t afford the drugs.

Although PhRMA lost the case, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly, who all were participating in donating the insulin—to the tune of more than $2 million in provided insulin so far—still bore the brunt of the renewed media attention and largely unfavorable discussions around insulin pricing.

4. Novo Nordisk