“There’s an immediate risk for patients who have a respiratory disease to have a worsening of the disease, and for children to have worsening lung function over time,” said Naimish Patel, Vice-President, Head of Early Clinical Development, Immunology and Inflammation, Sanofi Genzyme. “At the same time, children who grow up where there is a higher level of pollution have diminished lung function, and diminished lung function is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality in adulthood when there is a natural decline in lung function.”
Naimish Patel, Vice-President,
Head of Early Clinical Development,
Immunology and Inflammation,
Climate change also can extend range of plants that cause allergies and lengthen the allergy season, posing additional risk to sufferers of allergic rhinitis for example – the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reported that pollen counts in some regions will double by 2040, and sensitization to ragweed will more than double in Europe to 77 million people between 2041 and 2060.
Planning to meet the challenge
These potential health effects of climate change are a major reason biopharma companies like Sanofi have joined international efforts to combat climate change – as well as to accelerate preparedness for meeting the increased demand for effective treatments.
“Sanofi has already faced the question of supply in a climate-related emergency, such as a flood or severe hurricane which requires quick adaptations especially to supply drugs in difficult conditions. These cases are often managed by our Foundation Sanofi Espoir. The company has also conducted research on additional treatments for vector-borne diseases whose range is expanding or where the cycles are changing along with the climate change,” said Ophra Rebière, Vice-President, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sanofi.
“Aligning research efforts to develop even more treatments to address the disease effects of climate change is a topic of work for our entire industry,” Ophra Rebière added. “So is studying the impact of the potential disappearance of key plant species or organisms that are vital to the production of some drugs and biopharmaceuticals.”
Head of Corporate Social Responsibility,
“Sanofi also is adjusting its business practices, all along the manufacturing and distribution chain including offices, to reduce its own environmental footprint. That includes dividing by two our greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 within 10 years timeframe and to be carbon neutral by 2050”, said Jean-Christophe Bligny, Global Head Environment, Sanofi. “We are also committed to anticipate environmental risks to avoid any interruption of pharmaceuticals manufacturing, especially for saving-life products,” he said.
Global Head Environment,
Besides the human cost in illness and suffering, the increased disease burden caused by climate change poses a significant financial burden to society, adding another significant reason to combat the problem.
“Ten years ago, the US Natural Resources Defense Council investigated the health costs of six US climate change-related events and estimated the cost at more than $14 billion,” Rebiere said. “This is an indication of the effects and related costs of these events that we will face,” she added. “That is just one more reason this is being taken so seriously in so many countries, and that action plans and programs are in place or being developed.”