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October 17, 2016

Corporate Reputation

Médecins Sans Frontières rejects 1 million free vaccines from Pfizer

Global NGO Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders has turned down an offer from Pfizer of one million free pneumonia vaccines to administer to at-risk children. “Free is not always better,” said US executive director Jason Cone in a blog post. Such offers often come with caveats that restrict where the vaccines can be administered and who can receive them, Cone said, which can slow down vaccination campaigns. He emphasised that donations can serve as a shield to excuse drug price hikes, and can also discourage new entrants into the vaccine market.

GSK, the only other producer of the pneumonia vaccine, recently reduced its pneumonia vaccine price to the lowest in the world for humanitarian organisations. Cone praised the “significant shift”, following “years of negotiations”, and urged Pfizer to take a similar path. “Pfizer strongly disagrees with MSF’s stated policy and believes product donations play a crucial role in addressing humanitarian crises around the world,” a company spokesperson said. “We reiterate our offer of 1 million free doses and continued supply to meet these urgent, emergency needs.” (Fortune)


‘Monumental’ deal to cut HFCs, fastest growing greenhouse gases

More than 150 countries have reached a deal described as “monumental” to phase out gases that are making global warming worse. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are widely used in fridges, air conditioning and aerosol sprays. The accord reached in Rwanda accepted a complex amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will see richer countries cut back their HFC use from 2019. But some critics say the compromise may have less impact than expected, due to concessions made to India and China. Others were more optimistic: “Phase-outs have always driven the market transition so the laggards will be moved along by the market,” said Durwood Zaelke from the Institute for Government and Sustainable Development. (BBC)


PepsiCo launches multibillion-dollar health drive

PepsiCo is to spend billions of dollars to develop drinks and snacks and reformulate existing ones with lower sugar, salt and fat content, as consumers demand healthier options and regulatory pressure intensifies amid an obesity epidemic. PepsiCo will cut the number of calories from added sugar per 12oz serving to less than 100 in “at least” two-thirds of its global drinks portfolio in the next ten years. Dr Mehmood Khan, chief scientific officer, said the company had doubled research and development spending in the past five years and was “committed to sustaining investment”. Rivals such as Coca-Cola and Mondelez have plans to reduce sugar, salt and fat, while Mars this year announced a new plan to distinguish between “everyday” and “occasional” products. (Financial Times*)

Technology & Innovation

Panasonic partners with Schneider Electric to dial up smart building technology

Panasonic has partnered with energy management specialist Schneider Electric to bring to market a new energy management system for commercial buildings that its makers claim will make it easier than ever to cut energy consumption and improve building efficiency. The two firms have developed a wireless solution to link Panasonic’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with Schneider Electric’s building management system. The move will allow building managers to view all their core building systems at any time via the same interface. The system will also advise building managers on how to cut energy use across the building, from adjusting temperatures to turning off lights in empty rooms. (Business Green)


Image source: Pepsi by macoyv / Public Domain