10 Amazing Pharma, Biotech, and Chemical Companies Giving Back Right Now

July 8, 2020 Sarah Payne

4-minute read

“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” – John Henry Jowett

Shining a light on moments of humanity has always been important to us at Workhuman®. And with so much uncertainty in the world, these moments matter now more than ever. That’s why, in the early days of the pandemic, we launched the hashtag #recognizethegood to gather and share these positive stories with the world.woman doing research with mask on

Scanning the world to #recognizethegood, we realized that many of these moments are coming out of the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical industries. In April, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote in The Washington Post: “World War II was the defining moment of my parents’ generation. Similarly, the coronavirus pandemic – the first in a century – will define this era. But there is one big difference between a world war and a pandemic: All of humanity can work together to learn about the disease and develop the capacity to fight it.”

Indeed, leading companies in these industries have demonstrated their commitment to giving back to their communities. We commend these companies and thank them for leaning into corporate social responsibility initiatives to make the world a better place. 

Here are just a few of our recent favorite #recognizethegood moments from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and chemical industries:

  1. Eli Lilly collaboration for antibody treatment: Indiana-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly collaborated with AbCellera to create a potential antibody treatment, LY-CoV555, designed to fight COVID-19. "We are grateful to collaborate with colleagues at AbCellera, NIAID, and the many academic institutions who have helped us reach this milestone in humanity's fight against COVID-19 – a disease first characterized only six months ago,” said Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly's chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.
  2. NOVA Chemicals community support: Canadian-based plastics and chemical company NOVA Chemicals is committing $60,000 to support those left vulnerable by the pandemic and directly matching employee donations up to an additional $140,000 to organizations that provide immediate help in each of its core geographies.
  3. BASF’s “Helping Hands” initiative: As the largest chemical producer in the world, BASF is committing more than €100 million in total to fighting the pandemic. BASF is not only donating disinfectant and protective face masks, but it’s also providing support to academic research groups in their search for a suitable active ingredient to treat patients infected with coronavirus.
  4. AstraZeneca’s search for a vaccine: Last month British-Swedish pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca received more than $1 billion from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development, production, and delivery of a COVID-19 vaccine. Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said, “We will do everything in our power to make this vaccine quickly and widely.”
  5. Abbott treating babies’ hearts: American multinational medical devices and healthcare company Abbott was recently named Fast Company’s World Changing Company of the Year. Not only is Abbott helping ramp up testing capacity for COVID-19, the company also created the Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder, an implant that treats premature babies with a heart defect called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).
  6. Optum CEO joining vaccine effort: In April it was announced that Sir Andrew Witty, president of UnitedHealth Group and CEO of Optum, would take a leave of absence to co-lead a global effort of the World Health Organization to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Witty will return to the company at the end of the year.
  7. Bristol Myers Squibb donating hand sanitizer: We all know how hard it’s been to find hand sanitizer these past few months. Bristol Myers Squibb used extra capacity in its manufacturing site to make 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer every week and donated it to local organizations to help protect healthcare providers and patients.
  8. Boston Heart Diagnostics pivoting to antibody tests: Workhuman’s Framingham office neighbor Boston Heart Diagnostics usually runs advanced blood tests related to heart disease. Now it’s launching a test for COVID-19 antibodies. Lab president Pat Noland said “… we have the instruments and the technical capability to do this … and we basically redirected our efforts, much like some companies are now making ventilators that didn't traditionally make ventilators."
  9. Gilead Sciences donating experimental coronavirus treatment: In April, biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences announced it would donate more than 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, its investigational drug for COVID-19, to patients with severe symptoms. Gilead chairman and CEO said, "Providing our existing supplies at no charge is the right thing to do, to facilitate access to patients as quickly as possible and in recognition of the public emergency posed by this pandemic."
  10. Medtronic sharing ventilator designs: In March, Irish ventilator maker Medtronic shared the design specification for one of its ventilators, which can be used to treat critically ill patients during the pandemic. “By openly sharing the PB 560 design information, we hope to increase global production of ventilator solutions for the fight against COVID-19,” said Bob White, Medtronic’s executive vice president.

It’s amazing to witness what happens when humans unite behind a shared purpose. And as these companies demonstrate, even in the most desperate economic environments, innovation, business growth, and new ideas and approaches can flourish. 

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About the Author

Sarah Payne

Sarah is managing editor at Workhuman. When not writing about all things culture, leadership, recognition, and appreciation, she enjoys iced coffee, running, and spending time with her daughter, Mabel.

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