Ethical business practices are at the heart of patient-centered healthcare. They are also vital to ensuring long-term, sustainable growth for the APEC region’s biopharmaceutical sector. In particular, the industry's thousands of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the Asia-Pacific can face adverse consequences due to unethical industry practices. These include elevated patient distrust and weakened consumer confidence, unfair business conditions and/or inaccessible market opportunities, stifled investment and innovation, heightened regulation, and non-harmonized standards between economies leading to elevated compliance risk and legal costs while stifling cross-border trade.
The Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative launched the biopharmaceutical sector program in September 2011 due to the significance of the industry for the region’s SMEs and long-term economic growth. An Expert Working Group was convened at that time in Mexico City consisting of senior government, academic and industry leaders to craft the “APEC Principles for Voluntary Codes of Business Ethics in the Biopharmaceutical Sector” known today as The Mexico City Principles. Mexico was selected to host this historic meeting as the only APEC member economy having implemented a high-standard, unified code of ethics for its entire biopharmaceutical sector, applicable to local and multi-national manufacturers, third party sales and marketing intermediaries, and other stakeholders. The event was co-chaired on a public-private basis by Mexico (Ministry of Economy) and Canada (Innovative Medicines Canada).
High-standard, voluntary codes of ethics strengthen ethical practices by providing a platform for industry self-regulation while supporting government enforcement and anti-corruption efforts. They benefit responsible biopharmaceutical enterprises by providing clarity and harmonization in industry practices while enabling these firms – especially resource-constrained SMEs – to compete across borders with reduced legal risk and financial cost. Ethical collaborations between the sector’s key stakeholders, underpinned by high-standard codes of ethics, also ensure decisions are made in the best interest of patients.
Thanks to implementation efforts for the APEC Mexico City Principles that began in 2012, at least 50 biopharmaceutical industry associations have codes of ethics in place or have achieved formal progress. This has expanded high-standard principles to over 9,000 biopharmaceutical enterprises across the APEC region, more than 6,000 of which are SMEs. The biopharmaceutical sector program has also developed a trainer network that covers most economies as well as this website (www.mcprinciples.org) to disseminate the latest information and training resources. In 2015, an APEC Biopharmaceutical Working Group on Ethics was also established under the Project Overseer to advance implementation efforts (see Terms of Reference). Co-Chaired on a public-private and multi-sectoral basis, this ad hoc working group’s members for 2017-2018 include:
- Industry Co-Chair: Ms. Chrisoula Nikidis (Canada)
Government Co-Chair: Ms. Rocio Delgado (Peru)
- Health Care Professional Co-Chair: Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go (The Philippines)
- Patient Co-Chair: Mr. Russell Williams (Canada)
- Member: Mr. Pan Guangcheng (People's Republic of China)
- Member: Dr. Xu Ming (People's Republic of China)
- Member: Ms. Sabrina Chan (Hong Kong, China)
- Member: Mr. Darodjatun Sanusi (Indonesia)
- Member: Dr. Chairat Shayakul (Thailand)
- Member: Dr. Juan Francisco Millán Soberanes (Mexico)
- Member: Ms. Thuy Nguyen (Viet Nam)
- Member: Mr. Jean-Jacques Duhart (Chile)
- Project Overseer: Ms. Lynn Costa (The United States)
About the Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative
Launched in Gifu, Japan in 2010 by APEC SME Ministers, the Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative serves as the largest and most important collective action in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen ethical business practices in the biopharmaceutical sector. Since 2010, the initiative has raised more than $4 million (USD) in APEC funds and in-kind contributions from member governments, industry organizations and other stakeholders. This has enabled over 1,350 individuals from more than 1,000 organizations across all 21 APEC member economies to participate in 14 initiative programs to-date hosted by Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, the United States, Brunei Darussalam, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, and Peru. Hundreds of additional organizations have engaged with the initiative remotely. Support for the initiative has been extended on three or more occasions by APEC Economic Leaders (Heads of State), APEC Ministers (Foreign & Trade), APEC SME Ministers, and APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (see Endorsements).
For more information on the Business Ethics for APEC SMEs Initiative, you may review a detailed overview by clicking here.