Volume 2, 2005
Perspectives On International Corporate Responsibility
William Flanagan, Gail Whiteman
“AIDS is Not a Business”
A Study in Global Corporate Responsibility
Most major pharmaceutical companies have corporate social responsibility policies that pledge their commitment to improving the health and quality of life of people around the world. Yet these same companies also have difficulty in ensuring that developing countries have access to affordable medications. In the late 1990s, Brazil engaged in a heated battle with large US-backed multinational pharmaceutical companies. Brazil was facing a growing HIV epidemic and was determined to provide treatment to those in need. This required massive price reductions on HIV medications. Although met with resistance, Brazil’s campaign eventually resulted in the negotiation of significant price reductions. Our study examines how Brazil was able to secure these price concessions. We conclude that corporate social responsibility initiatives must be viewed as a dynamic interaction between multiple actors. Our study highlights the importance of governmental action, in both the national and international forums, to negotiate pro-actively with companies to ensure that CSR commitments are met.