UK - Oxfam and FairPensions have warned investing in pharmaceutical companies that try to block poor countries' access to affordable drugs might damage reputations and lead to falling returns.
Richard English, trade campaign manager at Oxfam, said pension holders had a right to know how their money was being invested: “By voicing your concerns in this way, you could be helping to secure a more sustainable future for millions of people in the developing world.”
The warning came in a letter to funds and investment institutions targeting companies such as Novartis who are currently challenging Indian patent law. This challenge could see HIV/Aids medicines put out of the developing world’s financial reach.
Oxfam said it wanted investors to understand many developing countries were fighting these challenges. Cases such as Glaxo SmithKline’s attempt at legal action against the South African government in 2001 was withdrawn due to investor pressure.
FairPensions executive director and former JP Morgan investment manager, Alex van de Velden, added: “ Investors need to monitor and manage the environmental and social issues that could damage returns in the medium term, and attempts to restrict access to medicines are a good example of a corporate strategy that could backfire.”
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