Ethics First: Navigating Ethics in Pharma in Scandinavia and Finland

Dec 26, 2023

The pharmaceutical industry in Scandinavia and Finland represents a significant and influential sector, characterized by its robust commitment to ethical practices and innovation. In terms of economic impact, the industry in Finland alone contributes substantially to the national economy, marked by notable investments in research and development (R&D). This investment not only drives economic growth but also fosters healthcare innovation. The Finnish pharmaceutical sector, for instance, has been instrumental in achieving savings in overall healthcare expenditure, underlining its role in enhancing both economic and health outcomes.

In Scandinavia, countries like Sweden and Denmark, home to global giants such as Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca, have similarly positioned themselves as leaders in pharmaceutical innovation and ethical practices. The region is known for its high standards in healthcare, supported by a strong tradition of public-private partnerships and governmental support in healthcare research. The emphasis on ethical conduct, patient safety, and sustainable practices has made Scandinavia a model for responsible and forward-thinking pharmaceutical development.


An Industry in Expansion

In Finland, the pharmaceutical market is marked by a competitive landscape with major players such as AbbVie Inc., AstraZeneca plc, Bayer AG, C.H. Boehringer Sohn AG & Ko. KG, and GlaxoSmithKline plc. According to Mordor Intelligence, the market is experiencing significant growth, particularly in the cardiovascular segment, owing to the rising prevalence of heart diseases and an aging population. For instance, the prevalence of heart failure increased from 3.7% among people aged 50 years or less to 15.3% among those aged 85 years or more, as reported by NCBI in June 2021. This has led to a growing demand for effective drugs, further fueling the market’s expansion​.

Looking at the broader Nordic region, according to Chameleon Pharma, Sweden stands as the largest pharma market with a market value of EUR 4.137 billion. Denmark, notable for its significant R&D expenditure, invested EUR 1.629 billion in R&D in 2018, making it the largest R&D spender in the region. It is also the largest producer in the Nordics, with a production value of EUR 14.391 billion in 2018. The combined Nordic pharmaceutical market was valued at approximately USD 14.3 billion in 2018, with Denmark and Sweden being the largest exporters and importers of pharmaceuticals in the region​​​.


Ethical Standards and Regulations

Finland, in particular, demonstrates a pioneering spirit in ethical pharmaceutical practices. The Finnish pharmaceutical industry is unique in its approach to marketing and supervision. For over 60 years, it has operated a voluntary control system for marketing, paralleling the model used for media regulation by the Council for Mass Media in Finland. This system supports the safe and correct use of medicines and is supplemented by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea’s supervisory activities. Member companies of Pharma Industry Finland (PIF) adhere to the PIF Code of Ethics, which governs the marketing of medicines to healthcare professionals and consumers.

Based in Finland, Orion Pharma is known for its ethical approach towards pharmaceutical manufacturing and marketing. For instance, their commitment to developing and distributing Parkinson’s disease medications, while strictly adhering to ethical marketing practices, serves as a model of responsible corporate behavior.


Innovations and Contributions

The pharmaceutical sector in these regions is characterized by a strong focus on R&D, generating significant economic growth and contributing to overall societal wellbeing. The Finnish pharmaceutical research and product development landscape is robust, with a particular emphasis on clinical trials, register-based studies, and real-world data (RWD) studies. The industry’s commitment to innovation is evident in the wide range of medicines available, including hospital medicines, vaccines, self-care medicines, biological medicines, and biosimilars.

A leading pharmaceutical company in Scandinavia, particularly Denmark, Novo Nordisk has set high standards in ethical practices, especially in diabetes care. Their patient-centered approach and transparent pricing models stand as a testament to ethical business practices in the industry.


Ethical Initiatives

Finland has implemented advanced medicines safety and verification systems. These systems are a part of the broader European Medicines Verification System (EMVS), ensuring the safety and traceability of medicines across Europe.

Companies like Novo Nordisk are actively engaged in environmental sustainability initiatives. For instance, Novo Nordisk has committed to zero CO2 emissions from their production facilities by 2030, showcasing a balance between industry growth and environmental responsibility.

The Finnish pharmaceutical industry’s voluntary control system for marketing, which has been in place for over 60 years, complements the regulatory supervision by Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea. This self-regulation ensures the ethical promotion of medicines to healthcare professionals and consumers.


Future Outlook

As the industry continues to evolve, its role as a health sector partner and opinion leader remains crucial. The focus on ethical practices, safety, and cooperation with healthcare professionals is likely to strengthen, ensuring that the pharmaceutical industry in Scandinavia and Finland remains at the forefront of ethical and innovative healthcare solutions.

The pharmaceutical industry in Scandinavia and Finland sets a benchmark for ethical practices in the global context. With its longstanding commitment to ethical marketing, innovation in medicine, and collaboration for healthcare improvement, this industry exemplifies how ethics and progress can go hand-in-hand in the pursuit of better health outcomes.