We strive to engage in constructive dialogue with policymakers and other external stakeholders with the intent to represent the perspective of Novartis in the policy making process. We provide policymakers with data and insights to enable widely informed decision-making. We undertake political activities in a responsible and ethical manner with a view to creating a sustainable business environment that is conducive to improving patient access and outcomes.
Our political activities include responsible lobbying, monitoring of the political environment at a global level, engagement with trade associations and financial contributions to support the political dialogue.
What we lobby for:
Solid protection of intellectual property that incentivizes investment in pharmaceutical research and development (R&D), enables knowledge sharing and allows rapid market access for generic and biosimilar medicines after loss of exclusivity
An agile regulatory framework that champions new science and embraces opportunities from digitalization in healthcare while protecting patient safety and privacy
Rapid patient access to innovation and quality medicines through universal health coverage and solid drug distribution pathways with affordable copayments
Increased efficiency in healthcare systems, through stringent focus on healthcare outcomes, reflected in their general payment policies, as well as in value assessment frameworks for pharmaceuticals
A global trade and business environment that facilitates a global approach to R&D and manufacturing through open markets, non-discrimination and tax frameworks, while acknowledging high risks and long cycle investments
Our guide to responsible lobbying
We are guided by three principles when conducting responsible lobbying:
Principle 1: Transparency, honesty and integrity are the core values reflected in how Novartis conducts lobbying.
Principle 2: All lobbying activities should enable widely informed decision-making in favor of improving and extending people’s lives through innovative science and technology, delivering breakthrough treatments to as many people as possible and sustaining a rewarding business environment.
Principle 3: Novartis associates must not attempt to improperly influence any decision by inducing lobbied stakeholders to act or not to act in violation of their lawful duties.
Novartis Group companies maintain full-time Public Affairs offices in several locations, including our Group Headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, Brussels, Belgium and Washington, D.C. in the United States. Our Public Affairs associates assess regulatory and political decisions with a potential impact on our business and on our patients across the globe.
We work closely with trade associations, which create opportunities to raise industry standards, exchange best practice and help foster framework conditions favorable to investment into R&D. In 2019, Novartis Group companies contributed USD 55.6 million to various major international, regional and country trade associations. Our list of memberships is available in the Novartis in Society ESG report (PDF 6.3 MB).
Novartis only makes political contributions in countries where such contributions by corporations are both legal and generally considered appropriate. We make financial contributions to support political dialogue on issues of relevance to the company, including certain government projects, e.g. capacity-building. Political contributions made by the company are not intended to give rise to any obligations on the part of the recipients, nor with the expectation of a direct or immediate return for Novartis. Such contributions are managed in a balanced way, so as to not disproportionately favor any specific party or political ideology, and need to be fully compliant with applicable laws, regulations and industry codes.
In 2019, Novartis made political contributions totaling approximately USD 1.71 million, of which approximately USD 530 000 were made in Switzerland, USD 1.11 million in the US (including approximately USD 206 000 through the Novartis Political Action Committee), USD 49 000 in Australia and USD 16 000 in Japan. In Switzerland, Novartis supports political parties with a political agenda and positions supporting the strategic interests of the company in pursuit of the company mission. Swiss political parties are completely privately financed, and corporate contributions are considered crucial. The private financing of parties is a deeply rooted trait of Swiss political culture and contributing to the system is an important element of being a good corporate citizen.
The local approval process for making political contributions is explicit. First and foremost all contributions must be compliant with applicable laws, regulations and industry codes. Provision is to be made under a separate budget position and approved in the annual budget process. Funds are disbursed in alignment with Public Affairs and with the approval of Legal, Compliance and the Country President. Political contributions in the US and Switzerland are under the supervision of the US Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Board of Novartis, respectively.
Novartis Political Action Committee
Integral to the US political system is the role of political action committees (PACs). As such, the Novartis PAC, a voluntary, non-partisan organization, was formed to financially support the election of qualified candidates for public office who advocate for issues important to the Novartis mission, demonstrate political leadership or represent a state or district where the company has a facility or a large concentration of employees. Members of the Novartis PAC are part of the company’s restricted class who are either U.S. citizens or green card holders and are eligible to contribute. The Novartis PAC only uses funds voluntarily contributed by eligible employees (but not from the company) to make political contributions. The PAC is independent of any political party, candidate or other organization and may contribute to federal, state, and local candidate campaigns, party committees and Leadership PACs at any time during an election cycle. The Novartis PAC is subject to federal contribution limits established by the US Federal Election Commission (e.g., USD 5,000 to each candidate or candidate committee per election). Administration of the Novartis PAC is clearly defined in terms of soliciting contributions, determining candidates to receive financial support, disbursement of funds and reporting.
Novartis discloses political contributions as required by law. Contributions made through the Novartis PAC (voluntarily contributed by eligible employees, but not from the company) are reported on a monthly basis to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and twice a year to the Clerk of the US House of Representatives and Secretary of the US Senate. Reports disclosing PAC contributions, as well as the sum of federal lobbying-related activities, are available for public access and can be found on the respective websites of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Clerk of the US House of Representatives and the Office of the Secretary of the US Senate. In addition, Novartis is listed in the Register of Interest Representatives, the European Commission’s voluntary self-regulation system.
All Novartis associates and third parties retained by Novartis to lobby on behalf of the company must act in accordance with the principles and rules established in the Novartis guideline on responsible lobbying. In addition, any third party that acts or lobbies on behalf of Novartis is subject to our anti-bribery due diligence process before it can be engaged. Appropriate training is provided to all associates engaged in lobbying. The due diligence process for all third parties engaging with political stakeholders has been strengthened.
Overall Novartis political engagement is - like any other Novartis activity - governed globally by the Novartis Code of Ethics (PDF 4.1 MB) and relevant policies such as the Anti-bribery Policy (PDF 0.2 MB) and the Third-Party Guideline. Compliance with all Novartis policies and guidelines is subject to monitoring through the Novartis auditing mechanisms.