Priority assessment

By designating and focusing our priorities, we find new opportunities to meet the needs of our patients, employees and communities. Bridging the gap between sustainability issues and stakeholder needs lets us build a stronger business now and into the future.

In 2014, we conducted a formal assessment to update our key sustainability issues, based on forward-looking views of global sustainability issues and stakeholder concerns.

We identified a broad set of issues, drawn from the input of senior executives and a wide range of external stakeholders. This range of stakeholders included:

  • Sustainable investment groups
  • Shareholders
  • Partners
  • Patient advocacy groups
  • Multilateral organizations
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Academia

Internal interviews of cross-functional and business unit leads were conducted to assess the most important issues to business success. Select external interviews were conducted with organizations representative of key issue areas (e.g. global health, access to medicines, product stewardship, climate, transparency) and types of organizations (e.g. NGOs, patient advocacy organizations, sustainable investors, academics), to determine relative priority of issues to external stakeholders.

The interviews focused on highlighting the top priorities, rising trends, risks and opportunities, and challenges to implementation.

The issues were then mapped (see graphic below) to highlight their relative priority to business success and stakeholders, based on input from the interviews. The results of the mapping were reviewed and refined with further input from our Sustainability Council and senior executive management. The higher priority issues were consolidated into a framework to inform sustainability strategy moving forward.


Our strategic framework brings focus to five main areas:

Each of these areas is addressed in our Sustainability 2020 Goals.


Additional important topics that have impacts across the five main areas are indicated by the band across the bottom, including governance and ethics, stakeholder engagement, transparency and human rights. Our approach to these issues is included in our reporting, and we continue to seek opportunities to improve.