At a glance: The UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF)

What is it? An industry body representing socially-responsible investment fund managers.

Why is it of interest to pharma PROs?

Because what it is saying provides a reputation management challenge to companies seeking money to develop and market their products.

Sounds serious. What’s UKSIF’s point?

It has issued guidance to pension fund trustees, as part of a series on the major FTSE 100 sectors, outlining what they should look for in pharma companies before putting their hands in pockets to invest.

Did anyone mention GSK and Seroxat?

This report is not linked to specific cases. But the GSK example shows that corporate reputation is an issue for pharma PROs and non-pharma organisations are increasingly aware of the impact of their investments.

What sort of risks are we talking about?

First, poor process in clinical trials breaching ethical guidelines and undermining the quality of science and in turn a product’s approval process. Second, the long-term damage to a company’s reputation in delaying the release of negative information for short-term sales gain.

But will anyone listen to UKSIF?

Since its members include investment giants CIS, Jupiter, Schroders and ISIS, yes. Questions such as ‘how is your fund manager incorporating these risks into its company analysis?’ and ‘how is your fund manager engaging with companies on these risks?’ also concentrate the mind.

Point taken. Anything else pharma PROs need to know?

UKSIF says there is growing criticism of doctors for receiving gifts or sponsorship from pharma companies, such as drug samples or sponsorship to attend conferences and events.

So ease up on the hospitality?

Not exactly. Obviously, the pharma industry is very wellregulated and the vast majority of companies act reputably. For UKSIF to be taking a strong interest is just a reminder that the sector must continue to take reputation management seriously.

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