PFIZER INC. | Report on a Human Rights Impact Assessment at PFIZER INC.

AGM date
Previous AGM date
Resolution details
Company ticker
Resolution ask
Conduct due diligence, audit or risk/impact assessment
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Human rights
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Company sector
Health Care
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED, that shareholders of Pfizer Inc. (“Pfizer”) urge the board of directors to oversee conduct of human rights due diligence (“HRDD”) to produce a human rights impact assessment (“HRIA”) covering Pfizer’s operations, activities, business relationships, and products. The HRIA should be prepared at reasonable cost and omitting confidential and proprietary information and made available on Pfizer’s web site. The HRIA should describe actual and potential adverse human rights impacts identified in the course of HRDD; identify rightsholders that were consulted; and discuss whether and how the results of the HRIA will be integrated into Pfizer’s operations and decision making.
Supporting statement
Supporting Statement
Pfizer has adopted a Human Rights Policy Statement (“Policy”) in which it commits to “respecting internationally recognized human rights throughout [its] operations.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including . . . medical care.”[1] Article 12.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights “recognize[s] the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”[2]
Access to medicines is a key element of the right to health. Target 3.8 of Sustainable Development Goal 3 assesses progress toward “access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”[3] The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has made clear that responsibility for increasing access to medicines is shared between states and pharmaceutical firms.[4]
The Policy recognizes the salience of the right to health, stating, “As a biopharmaceutical company, the right to health is of paramount importance.” More specifically, the Policy states that its “core focus areas underpinning the right to health are: Access & Affordability, Intellectual Property Protection, Clinical Trials, and Disease Awareness and Health Literacy.” Programs aimed at promoting access to medicine are listed, such as “working with payers to explore new business models such as linking reimbursement to the performance of our medicines . . . patient assistance programs, differentiated pricing, and, in certain circumstances, donations to help the most vulnerable patients access the medicines they need.”[5]
The Policy references the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“UNGPs”). The UNGPs state that to satisfy their obligation to respect human rights, companies should establish an HRDD process by which human rights impacts can be identified, prevented, mitigated and remedied. Pfizer does not appear to have conducted any HRDD regarding its own operations or those of its suppliers. HRDD would go beyond the “routine evaluations and onsite assessments” mentioned on Pfizer’s Responsible Sourcing web page,[6] since HRDD engages rightsholders and digs deeper to understand root causes, enabling companies to prevent further impacts.[7] Conducting HRDD would also enable Pfizer to identify impacts of its own operations, such as shortcomings in programs aimed at fulfilling Pfizer’s commitment to access and affordability.
[4], paras. 82-93.

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