Globally, US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer discovers,
develops, manufactures, and markets prescription medicines for humans and
animals. Its products are available in more than 150 countries.

Pfizer also
partners with healthcare providers, governments, and local communities around
the world to expand access to medicines and to provide better quality healthcare
and health system support.

Pfizer’s Indian
operations began in 1950. Headquartered in Mumbai, Pfizer Limited (India) has a
turnover of US$ 165.86 million (November 2009) and has over 2,300 people on its
payroll. The company operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at
Thane, Maharashtra. Pfizer brands such as Corex, Becosules, Magnex, Dolonex,
Gelusil, Minipress XL, and Benadryl have featured among the top 100
pharmaceutical brands in India.

In 1849, Charles Pfizer, a chemist, and his cousin Charles
Erhart, a confectioner, started a company named The Chas, Pfizer and Company
Inc. in Brooklyn, USA, with $2,500 borrowed from Charles’ father. Pfizer’s
first medicinal product was santonin, used to prevent parasitic worms. In
1942, Pfizer Inc. went public. The same year it first produced an infection-fighting
medicine penicillin (discovered by Alexander Fleming) in bulk, in response to
an appeal from the US Government to expedite the manufacture of penicillin to
treat Allied soldiers fighting in World War II.

Pfizer India directly participates in a variety of programmes and
initiatives to assist communities in need. Round-the-year community development
programmes support rural and urban healthcare and education projects. In
addition, Pfizer employees are encouraged to contribute their time to community
development initiatives. Pfizer teams have been involved with initiatives in
areas such as cancer, rural healthcare, and disaster relief.

Pfizer India’s community development initiatives include providing access
to medicines, support to cancer patient groups, providing health literacy and
spreading disease awareness, and assisting education, training, and
capacity-building. In 2005, the
company was awarded the FICCI–SEDF (Socio Economic Development Foundation)
Certificate of Commendation for its social responsibility efforts.

In India, Pfizer
instituted the first ever disease-management programme – Healthy Heart™ – in cardio
vascular disease (hypertension, chronic stable angina, and dyslipidemia), in
partnership with Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, and Apollo Hospital, Chennai. Elsewhere,
the company partners with physician associations to develop
recommendations/guidelines for managing specific diseases. Pfizer India also
offers patient assistance programmes for glaucoma, breast cancer, and neuropathic
pain.

Health literacy and empowerment

The Mother and
Child Healthcare Project


Pfizer India has partnered with Arpana
Research and Charities Trust to deliver sustainable healthcare to women and
children in Haryana and Punjab through the Mother and Child Healthcare Project.
Pfizer began supporting the project in rural Haryana in 2002. It has adopted 41
villages for a primary healthcare programme that aims to reduce anaemia in
pregnant women and adolescent girls. The project promotes community health
including diarrhoea management, antenatal care, and child nutrition and
immunisation. Village health workers provide education, training, and disease
awareness. The project also aims to identify congenital abnormalities in
high-risk pregnancy cases, especially neural tube defects and intrauterine
growth retardation.

A three-tier
healthcare programme, the Mother and Child Healthcare project consists of the
following levels:

  • Primary level comprising village health
    workers: Community-based preventive health services, implemented by closely
    knit teams of community workers from villages, including the traditional
    midwife
  • Secondary level comprising mobile health
    teams: Mobile clinics, linked to the referral base, visit all the project
    villages monthly to deliver a wide range of healthcare services for mother and
    child, including immunization and family planning components. It provides
    treatment of common diseases and a village-level referral centre, and also
    technical backup for the primary-level team of village-based health workers.
    Immunizations now cover over 98 per cent of the children in these target
    villages
  • Tertiary level
    comprising referral to the 170-bed Arpana
    Hospital: Patients and pregnant women are referred to
    the hospital by midwives and health workers who are based at the target
    villages. Cases commonly referred are difficult delivery cases/complications;
    severe anaemia, other maternity and child cases needing referral, family
    planning operations; pneumonia and other chest conditions; diarrhoea with
    extreme dehydration; and renal and other stones endemic in the area

Training and
building up disease and nutrition awareness are key aspects of the programme.
Specialized information and training are imparted to health workers and midwives.

Street plays and meetings
on pregnancy care – using specially designed flash cards and focusing on intrauterine
growth restriction (IUGR) and neural tube defects (NTD) – are conducted
regularly across the 41 villages. These street events also cover a spectrum of
health issues vital to the community well being.

Pfizer’s support
has further enabled Arpana to empower women by facilitating self-help groups
(SHGs). The SHGs have used innovative methods like plays and songs and flash
cards to effectively communicate healthcare tips. Health activities undertaken
by SHGs include mobilizing pregnant mothers for check-ups and immunization, advising
pregnant women on nutritional diet, checking home deliveries, mobilizing
mothers for child’s immunization, and organizing instant food stalls before the
harvesting season.

Nutritional
awareness drives are conducted in all the villages. Villagers are mobilized to
plant winter seasonal vegetables in their backyards. Training sessions on
balanced diet and correct methodologies to preserve vegetables by drying and
packing are conducted. This aims to increase awareness on diet and nutrition in
addition to ensuring a steady supply of nutritious food. Kitchen gardens as a
practical alternative is promoted by free distribution of seeds, networking
between Krishi Vigyan Kendra and kitchen garden owners, and training in vegetable
drying technique.

Since 2002, the
Pfizer–Arpana project has shown heartening results by improving the quality of
life of women, children, and families living in the 41 villages. According to a
January 2010 report by Pfizer India, these results include:

  • A 32 per cent decrease of anaemia in
    pregnant women, and a 51 per cent decrease of anaemia in adolescent girls
  • The creation of 1,046 home kitchen
    gardens that have helped to reduce levels of malnutrition and increase food security
    at the household level
  • A reduction in infant and maternal
    mortality, with fewer low-birth-weight infants and a lower prevalence of neural
    tube defects: a 20 per cent reduction in low-birth-weight babies and a 20 per
    cent jump in institutional deliveries
  • Better all-round healthcare and
    awareness of the health needs of pregnant women and children less than five
    years old, with 94 per cent coverage of antenatal checkups 

On the project,
Kewal Handa, managing director, Pfizer India, said, ‘This is a key example of
public–private partnerships that can be replicated and help India achieve many
of the Millennium Development Goals. In a short span, infant and maternal
mortality has declined, along with the incidence of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other
diseases. Poverty and hunger have been reduced by empowering rural women with
livelihoods and savings.’

Indeed, the
project encourages the belief that a private sector partnership can build local
health infrastructure and capacity in order to provide high-quality healthcare
along with social and economic empowerment to low-income populations within a
rural setting. It may be noted here that the empowerment of women has also led
to the development of micro credit groups. The health awareness meets have
gradually evolved and, today, women pool in their savings to help each other
set up their business.

Education,
training, and capacity building

Pfizer India,
Arpana Trust, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and
CAP Foundation have formed a strategic partnership for building up India’s
healthcare infrastructure and boosting employment generation. The Partnerships
for Life Project seeks to provide vocational training and employment to 300
youth aged 18–25 years, from rural areas in Haryana. A third of these young
people are being trained to work as nursing assistants and/or community health
workers.

The training helps
mobilize low-income and marginalized youth by providing them with skills that
have been identified to be in demand within the local rural labour market. In
the long term, the partners intend to institutionalize the model and determine
the potential for replication in other areas. Pfizer has embarked on similar
partnerships with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and Planet Finance in China.

‘The healthcare
issues within India are significant and capacity building is at the heart of
any development process. It is one of the core strategies needed to bring about
true healthcare and societal transformation,’ Paula DeCola, Senior Director of External
Medical Affairs, Pfizer Inc., had stated.

Support to patient groups for cancer

Treating cancer
can be long and difficult. Patients not only need effective drugs to treat
their condition but also palliative care while undergoing the treatment. Most
of India’s cancer patients are poor, and Pfizer has been involved in palliative
care aspects.

Pfizer India
established a partnership with CanSupport to deliver free palliative care and
support to people with cancer. CanSupport is a Delhi-based non-profit society
that provides palliative care free of cost to people with advanced cancer. It
helps them and their families to make informed choices and to receive
appropriate physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support.

Pfizer has funded
a home-care team that includes a doctor, a nurse, a nursing assistant, a
counsellor, an office assistant, and a driver, to care for at least 30
patients. The team offers medical and nursing care to relieve the pain and
distressing symptoms that can accompany advanced cancer; professional
counselling; practical advice and support for families; medical equipment and
supplies as well as nutritional supplements to those with special needs; and
bereavement counselling to grieving relatives.

Other healthcare
projects where Pfizer India has been actively involved include:

  • Multiple Sclerosis Society of India
    (MSSI), a patient support group dedicated to minimizing the effects of multiple
    sclerosis, both on patients and their families, by aiding and assisting them in
    coping with the disease and meeting the challenges of daily living. The society
    is also actively involved in raising awareness about the disease
  • Bombay Leprosy Project (BLP), a
    non-profit voluntary organization working since 1976 for the welfare of leprosy
    patients in the city of Mumbai. It is one of the centres recognized by the
    government of India to receive and treat leprosy patients with Thalidomide
  • Naee Nigah Program, wherein Pfizer
    partnered with HelpAge to conduct about 7,500 cataract surgeries in 2002–03. This
    programme aimed to empower the infirm elderly by restoring their independence
    and dignity, to enable them to continue earning their livelihood with renewed
    sight. The project funding covered the cost of creating awareness, conducting
    surgeries, the intra-ocular implants, medicines, food, spectacles, stay, and
    post-operative care

Pfizer has made
clinical research investments of US$6.28 million (November 2009) in India. Among other things, it

  • Formed the Academy of Clinical Excellence (ACE) in collaboration with Bombay
    College of Pharmacy to provide professional training to investigators and other
    clinical research personnel
  • Partnered with other pharmaceutical
    companies and contract research organizations to establish the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR),
    a professional society aimed at raising the standards of clinical research
  • Launched a new initiative called Pfizer Education and Research League (PEARL),
    in which Pfizer seeks to partner with institutes to improve existing clinical
    research and continuing medical educational capabilities