Sustainability – a valuable opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry has a substantial impact on the environment and, when it comes to sustainability, it has previously had something of an image problem.

However, with a global shift towards achieving a sustainable future, there is increasing pressure on the pharmaceutical industry to make commitments which will have a positive impact on the environment and society.

We asked Tom Delahoyde, managing director at Chiesi UK & Republic of Ireland, his thoughts on the industry’s role in achieving a sustainable future.

Why is the pharmaceutical industry so important in achieving a sustainable future?

The development and production of drugs and devices inherently consumes large quantities of natural, human and economic resources. As such, it represents a risk to the environment and the sustainability of the pharmaceutical industry.

However, with these challenges comes opportunity – many key players in the pharmaceutical industry, including Chiesi, have committed to environmental stewardship across their production lifecycle; from discovery right through to disposal.

By minimising the environmental impact of operations, the pharmaceutical industry is becoming a driver of positive change towards a sustainable future.

Is the pharmaceutical industry responding to the global shift towards sustainability?

Achieving sustainability is a major global goal for the pharmaceutical industry. Although there are challenges to overcome, there are many opportunities the industry can, and is, taking to get there.

Looking at the industry, we have seen a major shift in mindset over recent decades with companies self-imposing targets and initiatives to reduce the impact of their activities and products on the environment.

Many pharmaceutical companies are looking at ways they can produce their products more efficiently and in a sustainable way; such as implementing ‘green’ IT practices designed to lower costs, improve sustainability, and reduce energy consumption in their data centres.

Companies, including Chiesi, have pledged to become carbon neutral whilst others are focusing on plastic neutrality and water sustainability in the coming years.

What does the pharmaceutical industry need to do to gain stakeholder confidence that it is becoming more sustainable?

Transparency is key to success on the journey towards a sustainable future, not only to ensure industry sticks to its sustainability targets but also to help in gaining and maintaining stakeholder confidence.

Overall the pharmaceutical industry has made great steps towards this by identifying realistic sustainability targets however, we need more pharmaceutical companies to be accountable and join the sustainability movement now.

How important is sustainability to Chiesi?

Sustainability has always been a primary concern in the way Chiesi operates, and today represents a crucial element of the strategic vision of the company. We have launched several initiatives to support sustainability. For example, the We ACT programme – We Actively Care for Tomorrow – a project engaging the whole Chiesi population, enhancing awareness and curbing behaviours and processes into more sustainable ones.

On 25 September 2019, we held our annual We ACT Day to coincide with the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Around the world, Chiesi affiliates met to review progress against the SDGs adopted by Chiesi and to sign up to the

Benefit Corporation (B Corp) Declaration of Interdependence – committing to use business as a force for good. This important day commenced with a video from Chiesi Group President Dr Alberto Chiesi and CEO Ugo Di Francesco, who announced our intention to be carbon neutral by 2035.

At Chiesi, we want to act as a force for good and minimise the negative impact of our work and products. As we are a company that mainly works in the respiratory area, a particular focus of our activities lies in initiatives and projects dedicated to the quality of the air that we breathe.

The health of the planet is then one relevant topic for us, and we are committed to adopting a responsible model of consumption and production, to minimise the impact on the environment and preserve resources for the future generations. During our work we are careful to continually improve our environmental performance, whilst minimising our emissions and exposure to chemical substances.

Our Sustainable Chemistry Policy will help us reach our 2035 aim and is dedicated to the responsible management of chemical substances used for research activities. It addresses both the environmental safeguard and our employees’ safety, with the ambition to be always above the best standard of health and safety.

Chiesi was recently awarded B Corp Certification* – how important is recognition for social and environmental standards?

Achieving B Corp Certification was an important milestone for Chiesi. It’s an official recognition of our longstanding commitment to improve the quality of human life, through acting in a responsible manner towards society and the environment. It is not intended as a point of arrival, but as a business philosophy that will lead all our choices in the future.

This commitment, stemming from our continuous work providing access to innovative medicines to the patients who need them most, also includes our extensive environment and sustainability policies, which we take very seriously and are extremely passionate about.

Chiesi is the first global pharmaceutical group to receive B Corp certification. We hope that other pharmaceutical companies will soon join the B Corp movement to bolster the renewed commitment of the pharmaceutical sector to ensure healthy life and promote wellbeing for all, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030 of the United Nations. The health of our planet and its inhabitants deserves our best efforts.

What responsibility do companies have to the communities in which they operate?

It is extremely important that large, profitable organisations ‘give back’ to local communities and contribute to the economic, social, environmental and cultural sustainability of the societies in which we live and work.

Our local initiatives are helping to make significant improvements in our community. One way we do this is through corporate volunteering. We have been running the Chiesi volunteer week since 2015, involving Chiesi employees in projects with non-profit local associations; these include funding and participation in school breakfast clubs, providing support for homeless centres and rehabilitation of prison offenders. These initiatives are true sustainable partnerships providing a positive experience to not only the community but also to Chiesi employees who are involved.

Sustainability is not just about the environment or improving patient access to medicines, it is also about empowerment, using resources to support local causes and activating communities to take charge of their health and wellbeing.

About the interviewee

Tom Delahoyde achieved a post-graduate fellowship in Microbiology at Manchester before taking up a number of roles within the NHS, based at Manchester Royal Infirmary and St Mary’s Hospital within the Pathology Department. Following his time within the NHS, Mr Delahoyde joined Rhone Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi pharmaceuticals) gaining experience in a number of sales and marketing roles within both primary care and secondary care divisions. He moved on to become the Sales Director of the generics division of Rhone Poulenc before becoming one of the founder members of Trinity Pharmaceuticals in 1994, joining as Sales and Marketing Director. In 1999, Chiesi Farmaceutici acquired Trinity Pharmaceuticals with Mr Delahoyde appointed to the role of General Manager for the new UK affiliate. Since 1999, the UK affiliate has grown from an annual sales turnover of £16M to an annual turnover of £250M in 2018. Today, Mr Delahoyde is a Board Director of Chiesi Limited, reporting to the Head of Region Europe Alessandro Chiesi.


About Chiesi

Chiesi Limited is the UK & Republic of Ireland affiliate of Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A. It is headquartered in Manchester and employs over 400 employees. Chiesi Farmaceutici is an international research-focussed Healthcare Group based in Parma, Italy, and present in 26 countries. Chiesi researches, develops and markets innovative drugs in the respiratory, specialist medicine and rare disease areas. For more information visit

*Certified B Corporation. About B Corps. Available at: Last accessed November 2019

December 2019 | UK-CHI-1900359