Championing the Change Makers
A spotlight on an everyday healthcare organisation that puts its core values of inclusivity and accessibility into action
Haleon, the consumer health organisation which made waves when it broke away from its former parent company GSK, has consistently proven its commitment to equality and sustainability in healthcare since its conception as an independent body in 2022.
For a company whose founding years were spent as part of one of the biggest mergers in the healthcare space (Haleon was first born when Pfizer and GSK brought their healthcare divisions together in 2018), their work in grassroots support not just for the staff that make up the business, but also the early-stage companies they support as an umbrella organisation, shows consistent commitment to their values.
In a world which appears to be creeping towards a deprioritisation of ESG causes, Haleon has introduced several initiatives which demonstrate its commitment since its launch as an independent company on the London and New York stock exchanges in August 2022.
A core objective for the business, amongst its commitments to sustainability and innovation, is diversity and inclusion in healthcare. Healthcare inequality remains a significant global issue, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Access to everyday healthcare due to discrimination of minorities due to race, gender, sexuality, age and more, Haleon believes, can and should be prioritised.
We take a look at just a snapshot of the ways in which Haleon aims to democratise wellness and sustainability.
Solutions to challenge the status quo: the work of Haleon’s incubator programme
Whilst Haleon’s demerger from GSK saw the company take some of the most recognised healthcare products with them, including the likes of Sensodyne, Advil and Centrum, the team expressed a passion for investing in the development of “category-leading” companies “that address real consumer health needs”.
However, another sizeable focus for the business is on the nurturing of innovators in healthcare at early stages of their development. In late 2022, Haleon announced their third cohort of its Re/Wire Health Studio accelerator program.
This cohort included the femtech product Midday, an app from Lisa Health which was one of six companies to benefit from the programme. It covers a multitude of business factors, from development of brand and product, strategic roadmapping and behavioural economics through to insights on fast-tracked global scaling and commercialisation.
The recent Menopause Awareness Month highlighted the ongoing need for support for the 1.2 billion women expected to be experiencing perimenopause and menopause by 2030. Midday endeavours to offer a personalised, end-to-end digital solution for both the physical and emotional stressors experienced by women during this time.
Everyday oral health, understanding the microbiome of the gut and CBT mental health support are just a snapshot of some of the other issues being tackled by companies that were chosen to partake in the incubator programme.
Simple solutions to support the planet: The Blister Pack Collective
A part of informing and empowering everyday customers to live more sustainably whilst they support their health, is another key factor in Haleon’s core objectives.
Last month, Haleon (along with Bayer) was announced as a founding member of the Blister Pack Collective, an organisation which aims to create tablet packs which dramatically reduce the use of plastics like polyvinyl chloride. With the announcement, Haleon shared their goal of playing a key role in a future in environmentally-friendly consumer health packaging, further demonstrating their dedication to making everyday health more sustainable.
When discussing the initiative and the reason behind Haleon’s core role, the R&D packaging division head, Alex James Orchard, highlighted the importance of imposing change “upstream”. This is made possible through the technology created by PA Consulting and PulPac, developers of breakthrough fibre moulding technology, which has created DMF (dry moulded fibre) tablet blister pack. It has been reported that the use of this material could contribute to the reduction of plastic medicine packaging by approximately 110,200 tons annually.
Why Haleon and Advil are fighting to make pain management inclusive
In September of this year, Haleon’s Advil launched the Advil Pain Equity Campaign, a commitment which aims to address the serious concern around the major public health issue that is the imbalance in pain relief support for black communities. A survey by Advil of 2,000 found that 83% of black individuals had a negative experience when seeking support for pain management. When considering that 90% said they experience pain on a daily basis, the inequity is appalling and requires a focus for change. Haleon’s own Chief Marketing Officer, Katie Williams, shared her first hand experience of racism in seeking pain management when a doctor initially believed her to be a “drug seeker” after she sought pain relief for an excruciating kidney issue.
It’s for this reason that Advil is awarding grants to the Morehouse School of Medicine along with BLKHEALTH, a charitable organisation which fights for health equity. The grants aim to support the development of patient resources as well as training for medical students on pain equity.
The inaugural project, ‘Believe My Pain’, features personal stories of those who have suffered first hand from this inequity, as well as experts including physician and thought leader on racism in medicine, Dr. Uché Blackstock and journalist and advocate Elaine Welteroth. Elaine herself experienced the challenge of finding support for pain management during her pregnancy, and now fights for change to support others experiencing similar issues.
So, what can we learn?
Consumers today are becoming more educated, making purchasing decisions based on the ethics of the companies behind global healthcare products. In the face of a seemingly endless number of priority causes, Haleon proves that it is possible to champion multiple initiatives which affect the day to day lives of their customers. When you produce and market products designed to help everyday healthcare, the ability to recognise and shine a spotlight on the continued need for investment in diversity, inclusion and sustainability is key.