Accepted paper:

How Big Pharma's 'global corporate citizenship' is translated in India

Authors:

Stefan Ecks (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Under the banner of 'global corporate citizenship' (GCC), multinational drug firms are propagating adherence to universal human rights within corporate boundaries and beyond. Drawing on recent fieldwork in Kolkata, this paper discusses pharma GCC in three settings: Europe, North America and India.

Paper long abstract:

An increasing number of European and American drug companies are claiming to hold "global corporate citizenship" (GCC). Defined as a dialogic engagement with significant stakeholders, GCC aims to uphold and propagate universal human rights within corporate boundaries and beyond. For drug companies, GCC entails not only a promise to ease access to medications for all patients, but also to spread disease awareness and "health literacy" around the world, in both developed and developing countries. Drawing on recent fieldwork in Kolkata (Calcutta, India), this paper explores how GCC is translated by doctors in general practice. Focusing on the official and unofficial messages conveyed in "depression awareness" workshops held by a large multinational company, it describes how GCC slogans are adapted to postcolonial notions of citizenship, with often paradoxical results. For example, Kolkatan GPs routinely prescribe antidepressants without telling their patients about the medications. Does this subvert ideas of global corporate citizenship, or might it support them in unforeseen ways? How are different projects of pharmaceutical citizenship aligned or in conflict with each other?

panel IW07
Medical anthropology, Europe and the world