When it comes to taking a political stand, for-profit companies and individuals tend to stay neutral rather than publicly express explicit political opinions. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict, however, has seemingly changed this pattern. An increasing number of entities, especially from the Biotech field, have been publicly expressing their support for Ukraine during the past month and have taken active measures to assist Ukrainian refugees, says Pharmaknowl, a company that offers pharmaceutical regulation and compliance services in Saudi Arabia.
Boehringer Ingelheim, a German company and one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, showed their solidarity and support for Ukraine by publishing a Tweet that condemned Russia’s actions:
“We condemn the military aggression against Ukraine. We will contribute 2.5 million to humanitarian relief funds for Ukraine and do everything we can to help our impacted colleagues, their families and communities”
The company has donated 2.5 million Euro to the following charitable organizations: International Committee of the Red Cross, Aktionsbündnis Katastrophenhilfe, Aktion Deutschland Hilft und UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe, which provide humanitarian support to Ukraine and its citizens.
Boehringer Ingelheim has contacted their Ukrainian employees to ensure their safety, and as stated by CEO of the company Hubertus von Baumbach, will do everything to help their impacted colleagues, their families and communities.
The CEO of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Emma Walmsley, “utterly condemned” the situation in a post on her personal LinkedIn account:
“As CEO of a company with people in Ukraine, I wanted to share my deep concern about the tragic and shocking events happening there and give an update on how we are responding”.
GSK employs 400 people in Ukraine, making this tragedy one that hits even closer to home. The company has made big efforts to support Ukraine by donating $3.25 million Dollars to the Red Cross and Save the Children, who provide food, shelter and warm clothing for the Ukrainian refugees and people located near the border. Another NGO that GSK has donated to is Crown Agents which is based in the United Kingdom. GSK has funded 2500 trauma kits and are in discussions on how to enable a continuous supply of essential medicines into Ukraine as the situation worsens.
GSK employees have also donated a substantial amount to support their fellow colleagues and GSK stated that it will match the donated amount. In addition, the company has answered requests for donations of asthma medications, painkillers, and antibiotics.
The French multinational healthcare company, headquartered in Paris, donated 5 million Euro through its official foundation to organizations such as the Red Cross, UNHCR and UN Refugee Agency. The donation is aimed to provide shelter, food, medicine and security to assist the refugees of Ukraine.
Sanofi has also suspended all advertising, media efforts and expenses that are not related to essential medicines in Russia. Due to international law, and for humanitarian purposes, the company will continue to supply essential, lifesaving medicines to Russia. Sanofi encourages its employees to make donations to the cause and has announced that it will continue to respond to the conflict as it evolves.
In addition to the companies above which have publicly stood against humanitarian injustices, various influential individuals from the Pharma and BioTech industry have bravely expressed their sympathy and support for Ukraine.
Noubar Afeyen, chairman of the American BioTechnology company Modera, Inc., focusing on RNA therapeutics, was quoted in his sympathy towards the Ukrainian side of the conflict:
“My own family’s history in Armenia and Lebanon have taught me all too well that war causes casualties well beyond the battlefield and does damage that is both broadly societal and profoundly personal. Beyond its impact on the present and immediate futures, this damage will have long-lasting effects that rarely factor into the miscalculations of present-day leaders.”
Other figures such as Meg Alexander, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer of Ovid Therapeutics; Paul Hastings, CEO and President of Nakarta Therapeutics and Jeremey Levin, Chairman and CEO of Ovid Therapeutics, all wrote a public letter stating their dismay regarding unprovoked war that was started by Russia.
The authors of the letter encouraged employees of all levels to sign their names as a public expression of their support and solidarity with Ukraine. The letter also calls for the cessation investments in Russian companies, rejection of investments from Russian funds, stopping collaborations with Russian companies and termination of trade in goods apart from food and essential medication. These actions will be reversed upon the reestablishment of peace in sovereign Ukraine.
The letter concluded by praising the efforts and bravery of the Russians opposing the war and their government, ensuring these individuals know that they are supported. As of today, the letter has collected over 860 signatures.