Accelerating action as we work together to build a more sustainable future – Pharma Sustainability Integrates 2024


“It is now more important than ever that, across healthcare, we collaborate and work together to realise the change we need.”

Roz Bekker

Managing Director, Janssen UK & Ireland

Roz Bekker
Managing Director, Janssen UK & Ireland
ABPI Board Sponsor for Sustainability

Industry experts, leaders, and policy makers from across the pharmaceutical industry met last week in London to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to reducing the industry’s environmental impact. Hosted for the first time as an in-person event, Pharma Sustainability Integrates 2024 provided a platform for discussion and debate.

The event was opened by Roz Bekker, Managing Director, Janssen UK & Ireland and ABPI Board Sponsor for Sustainability, who started by thanking LSI and the ABPI for running the event and putting together a fantastic agenda. Roz emphasised that patients and the community need to be at the forefront of this discussion.

“We are already seeing the impact of climate change on our collective mental and physical health – with increased evidence of certain cancers, respiratory and infectious diseases.”

“That the climate emergency disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in society and will worsen health inequalities.”

“It is now more important than ever that, across healthcare, we collaborate and work together to realise the change we need.”

She spoke of the critical role that the pharma industry must play in driving cleaner production methods, accelerating green chemistry, and reducing the environmental impact of creating and distributing medicines. Her key message of the day was to focus on collaboration between the NHS and industry to create innovative solutions to sustainability.

“In summary, driving sustainable healthcare is synonymous with what’s best for patients and for the viability of the wider system: reducing environmental health risks, reduced costs and increased resilience of health systems and the workforce.”

Keynote Address: ‘Homeopathy for Heat’

“YOU have to commit fully, YOU have to lead, YOU have to act, whether or not others do.”

Hugh Montgomery, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine, UCL & Co-founder, Real Zero, delivered a powerful keynote address entitled ‘Homeopathy for Heat’.

Hugh outlined the radical and immediate action that is needed to sustain life on earth, leaving delegates in no doubt that time is of the essence when it comes to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

He shared several shocking statistics related to climate change, for example:

Hugh Montgomery OBE
Professor Intensive Care Medicine, UCL & Co-founder, Real Zero

  • The most recent scientific data emerging on global climate change, shows that without action, the earth will soon become ‘unliveable’ for humans and animals alike
  • According to the data, we are on a trajectory to making 96% of life on earth today extinct by the end of this century.
  • 30m tonnes of ice per hour is being lost from the Greenland ice sheet, leading to unprecedented sea level rise

Although the numbers are daunting, Hugh reassured the room that we can still change the story and issued an urgent “call to arms” to the pharmaceutical sector. The healthcare industry is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions and 11.7% of global GDP. If the sector prioritises de-carbonisation now, the planet and its population stand a chance of survival.

A strategy of applying pressure on banks to prioritise sustainable investment, reducing patient visits, adopting renewable energy, moving towards locally produced, seasonal plant-based foods and away from a consumer society is needed.

In the face of a near-certain catastrophe, the healthcare profession can be the heroes, as opposed to the villains. Hugh emphasised that the day’s debate must focus on the actions the healthcare industry can take immediately and collaboratively to save the planet.

Fireside Chat – Adoption of new technologies and digital solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of Pharma supply chains

The fireside chat ‘Adoption of new technologies and digital solutions to reduce the carbon footprint of pharma supply chains’ opened with a comparison of the global pharmaceutical supply chain with the automotive industry. Both sectors have almost the same carbon footprint, but while the automotive industry is taking obvious action to combat the climate crisis, such as moving towards electric vehicles, the pharma industry in contrast is not making large enough changes.

The session was chaired by Dave Tudor, Managing Director of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, Biologics & Quality at CPI, who interviewed: Giuseppe Whelan, Medicine Development & Industrialisation Sustainability Head at GSK; Matt Shaughnessy, Head of Operations at AstraZeneca; and Duncan Flack, Chairman of CiPPPA.

While the pharma industry has already taken the first steps to switch to renewable energy, and has started to develop sustainable technology, Duncan highlighted that the next stage was to look at creating value from waste. He said, “We need to develop advanced technologies and regulatory frameworks to enable recycling & circularity. This requires coordination across the industry.”

Giuseppe agreed: “Unless we build circularity into the process, we’re never going to solve the problem”. He also highlighted a need to move to execution quickly but wasn’t sure that the system is ready for the level of change needed.

Speakers include:

Giuseppe Whelan
Medicine Development & Industrialisation, Sustainability Head, GSK

Matt Shaughnessy
Head of Operations Sustainability, AstraZeneca

Duncan Flack
Global Sustainability Lead, Honeywell & Chairman, CiPPPA

Interviewed by:

Dave Tudor
Managing Director, Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre,
Biologics & Quality, CPI

Matt emphasised that the industry needs to set bold ambitions, not wait for perfect data. Technology needs to drive climate improvement. As an industry we are very focused on creating new medicines, but we also need to go back to the old high-volume medicines and make them more sustainable too.”

Dave then spoke about how societal pressure and strong leadership will result in change, explaining, “The next generation will make significant choices about medicine based on the sustainability of the companies that make them – companies that don’t address this are going to be left behind.”

Measuring up – how do we measure environmental impact?

In creating the greener operating framework of the future: how do we measure environmental impact and use these measures to drive change?

Facilitated by:

Fiona Adshead
Chair, Sustainable Healthcare Coalition

Panellists Include:

Niels Lund
Vice President, Climate Change & Health, Novo Nordisk

Richard Henderson
Sustainability Leader, GSK

Alex Wilkinson
Respiratory Consultant & Clinical Lead for Respiratory Infection and TB, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

Michael Clarke
Partnerships Director, British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA)

Neil MacKillop
Executive Director, AstraZeneca

The first panel of the day, ‘Measuring up – how do we measure environmental impact,’ was facilitated by Fiona Adshead, Chair of the Sustainable Healthcare Coalition, and featured: Niels Lund, Vice President of Climate Change and Health at Novo Nordisk; Richard Henderson, Sustainable Leader at GSK; Alex Wilkinson, Respiratory Consultant & Clinical Lead for Respiratory Infection and TB at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust; Michael Clarke, Partnerships Director, British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA); and Neil Mackillop, Executive Director at AstraZeneca.

Outlining and defining the goals for the industry, Fiona said “It’s not a question of if we’re going to do it, but how. We need to start from this mindset.”

Niels encouraged the industry to look at the full patient care pathway to identify the hotspots where the biggest differences can be made. “We are comfortable with balancing cost effectiveness with patient outcomes, but we have a way to go before we are looking at carbon effectiveness in the same way – how do we balance the health of the planet with the health of the individual?”

Richard agreed and spoke about the need for there to be independent scrutiny of measurement processes. He emphasised, “We have to be pragmatic and develop simple rules that all companies can follow. Measurements don’t have to be perfect; they need to be good enough to show us where the problems are, and good enough to make sound decisions.”

Neil highlighted the work that AstraZeneca has done to embed carbon measurement into clinical trials, with the hope of enabling academic and industry trials to reach Net Zero by 2030.

Michael spoke about the need for members to play a key role in developing a sustainability framework and the obstacles that come with a global supply chain. He asked if sustainability metrics could be worked into procurement requirements for medicines in the same way that quality metrics are. He did however caution the consequences of doing this and asked, “In the short term, can the NHS pay the higher prices for more sustainable medicines?”

From a clinical care perspective, Alex highlighted that environmentally friendly care is an aspect of high-quality healthcare. He gave the example that well-managed asthma has a much lower carbon footprint than poorly managed asthma. “We need to make it as easy as possible for patients to make good environmental decisions e.g., schemes to encourage recycling of inhalers at pharmacies.”

Supply Chain Gains

Collaboration between pharma development, manufacturing and supply is essential for a more efficient and more sustainable pharma supply chain. How can technological advances facilitate a more connected and less wasteful supply chain?

Supply Chain Gains was chaired by Laura Kelly, Partner – ESG Reporting and Assurance at PWC and featured: Matt Shaughnessy, Head of Operations Sustainability at AstraZeneca; Richard Dunn, VP Business Development and Account Manager Life Sciences & Healthcare at DHL Supply Chain; Laura Griffiths, Innovation lead Medicines Manufacturing at Innovate UK; and Joris De Keijser, Head of Strategy at Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma Services. The session focused on the need for sustainability to be deeply embedded within all parts of the processes and culture of the pharmaceutical ecosystem.

Laura Griffiths spoke about how she envisioned a taskforce response, like we saw in the pandemic, with carbon and sustainability needing to be a greater priority in the procurement process, alongside quality and delivery on time. However, she highlighted that skills gaps remain an issue, saying, “It’s great that big companies have sustainability teams, but sustainability should be embedded in all processes within a business.”

Matt agreed with the need for a focused approach and said, “We have to take a long-term view, looking beyond individual medicines and suppliers. We need to invest in the networks and technological solutions that are going to help us achieve goals in 5 years’ time.”

Facilitated by:

Laura Kelly
Partner – ESG Reporting and Assurance, PwC UK

Panellists Include:

Matt Shaughnessy
Head of Operations Sustainability, AstraZeneca

Richard Dunn
VP Business Development & Account Management, Life Sciences & Healthcare, DHL Supply Chain

Laura Griffiths
Innovation Lead, Medicines Manufacturing, Innovate UK, UKRI

Joris De Keijser
Head of Strategy, Ajinomoto Bio-Pharma Services

Speaking from his own experience, Richard said, “It doesn’t all have to be long-term and costly, there are practical and easy solutions available now e.g., using sustainable fuels. DHL has a simple mantra – burn less and burn clean.”

Joris referred to points made earlier in the day about the need for the demand to come from the customer, in order for the industry to change its approach, “We need to move from a linear economy to a circular economy.”

Greenification of careers in industry

As the urgency to address climate change grows, choosing a role aligned with sustainability is becoming a top priority but many ask the question ‘what can I do to make a difference?’

Embracing green careers is crucial in the face of climate change. In the life sciences industry, professionals are actively contributing to sustainability. From investing in renewable energy to creating low-carbon inhalers and achieving net zero buildings, the industry is making a significant impact. The ‘greenification’ of existing roles is a key factor in attracting talent, shaping industry perception, and ensuring the necessary upskilling for retention and achieving net zero goals.

Facilitated by:

Andrew Croydon
Director, Education and Examination Policy & Partnerships, The ABPI

Panellists Include:

Chris Blackburn
Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Impellam Group

Aalia Kazi
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Partner, Roche

Peter Collins
Director, Global Health and Social Impact, Pfizer

Perdita Cresser
Shared Value and Sustainability Manager, Chiesi

The ‘Greenification of careers in industry’ panel focused on the importance of sustainability being embedded within organisations and accepted as an issue that we are responsible for.

The session was chaired by Andrew Croydon, Director of Education and Examination Policy & Partnership at the ABPI and featured: Chris Blackburn, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Impellam Group; Aalia Kazi, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Partner at Roche; Peter Collins Director, Global Health and Social Impact at Pfizer; and Perdita Cresser, Shared Value and Sustainability Manager at Chiesi.

Aalia highlighted that the industry needs to use the skills and talent it already has, saying, “Sustainability isn’t a new add-on for people to have to think about, it’s already embedded in many pharma roles, such as reducing consumption and waste.”

Perdita agreed and said, “You don’t necessarily need formal skills or training in sustainability to work in a sustainability role…there are transferrable skills between industries.

Illustrating this point, Chris said, “Sustainability is all about empowering people to believe that they can achieve things they didn’t think were possible.” He then added, “The challenge is how to invest in future skills for the environment when we are already facing a skills gap in the UK.”

The conversation also touched on the importance of education. The panel discussed the idea that organisations have a responsibility to go into schools and educate both teachers and students on the routes and roles into the pharma industry and to put the climate crisis on the curriculum. Andrew said, “We need to make people aware that there are multiple routes into the industry”. Peter captured the essence of the discussion asking the audience “To meet Net Zero commitments – do you know what your part of the story is?”

COP or Cop-out?

The recent COP28 conference highlighted the urgency and pace needed to reach Net Zero goals. How can the healthcare, pharma, and wider life sciences sectors build on the outcomes of COP28?

The session ‘COP or Cop Out?’ was chaired by John Arthur, Director of Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre at CPI and the panellists included: Ryan Robinson, Founder and CEO of Aeropowder; Rob Holdway, Managing Director of Giraffe Innovation; Dave Ennis, VP Environmental Protection, Operations, Global Sustainability & SHE at AstraZeneca; and Harriet Lewis, Director Market Access & Public Affairs at Chiesi UK. The panellists discussed how the healthcare, pharma, and wider life sciences sectors can build on the outcomes of COP28.

Dave said, “We need to look beyond climate and consider the wholistic impact on nature and the planet. Climate actions can have knock-on effects on other areas, and greenwashing is a danger.”

Rob also cautioned, “There is a need for transparency. Sustainability means different things to different people depending on cultures and industries, and there are too many acronyms…as a sector, we are way behind compared to other industries.”

Ryan agreed and said, “We need to be more transparent and open about problems – this will accelerate solution-finding… we can look to nature to find inspiration for better sustainable solutions.”

From the perspective of a B-Corp, Harriet highlighted a focus on 4 Ps: People, Patients, the Planet & Prosperity, saying “Sustainability is business critical now”.

Facilitated by:

John Arthur
Director, Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, CPI

Panellists Include:

Ryan Robinson
Founder and CEO, Aeropowder

Rob Holdway
Managing Director, Giraffe Innovation

Dave Ennis
VP Environmental Protection, Operations, Global Sustainability & SHE, AstraZeneca

Harriet Lewis
Director Market Access & Public Affairs
Chiesi UK

A Day of Collaboration and Potential

Christopher Watt, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Life Science Integrates, commented:

“A heartfelt thank you to all our sponsors, speakers and attendees for their invaluable contributions that made this event possible. Your support and collaboration are truly appreciated. The engaged audience from industry experts and policy leaders underscored the potential to drive meaningful change towards a sustainable pharmaceutical industry. We hope the discussions today have sparked new ideas and we look forward to continuing the conversations and accelerating action as we work together to build a more sustainable future.“

Overall, the event emphasised the need for immediate and transformative action to reduce the environmental impact of the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

Accelerating action as we work together to build a more sustainable future – Pharma Sustainability Integrates 2024