Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – UNITED LABORATORIES
United Laboratories is the largest pharmaceutical company in the Philippines. Established in 1945, it enjoys a dominant market share (around 20 percent) compared to other pharmaceutical companies operating in the Philippines. It also has a significant presence in neighboring countries such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and many others. From its early days its core mission has been to provide a wide range of high quality products at affordable prices – a doctrine virtually unchanged to this day. Having gained so much success Unilab has time and again given back to the community through its CSR advocacies and activities. A number of them are briefly itemized and described in section 2 below.
1. Analyze its corporate social responsibility in terms of the three dimensions put forward by Porter and Kramer.
As mentioned, Unilab’s core mission (and indeed, a large part of its success) is to offer affordable medicines. Through various initiatives, it has been able to offer a wide range of products at much lower prices than other standard branded medicines. Excluding generics, Unilab’s line of drugs from Rite Med are some of the cheapest medicines in the market. This initiative can be seen as a competitive context issue as stipulated by Porter and Kramer. This is because the move was largely influenced by the competitive environment (in this issue of price advantage, the generics were considered the biggest competitors), and of the dynamics of consumer demand. Customers were looking for more affordable medicines and they had many options to choose from. Unilab has also engaged in various community programs. Foremost among them is the Bayanihan Agad Program that aimed to help the victims of Typhoon Yolling. It has also promoted the study of science and technology through a collaboration with the UP Open University. These activities are clearly generic social issues for Unilab. While the causes are worthy, they do not directly affect the company’s competitiveness, nor are they significantly affected by its operations. Unilab has also collaborated with government. Two activities that can be considered competitive context issues are its partnership with the Department of Health and its Unilab In-Patient Assistance Program (UNIPAP). Its five-year program with the DOH is such because developing and expanding the delivery of medical services may redound as future sources of revenue for the company. This is because doctors and clinics also constitute a wide portion of Unilab’s clientele. Extending the potential market base is an issue of local demand, one of the areas of competitive context. The UNIPAP venture may be considered similar. However, its more glaring characteristic is that it is also a strategic CSR activity. Unilab has taken a unique position of providing free medicines to those who cannot afford it. There are also CSR activities for Unilab that can be considered both value chain impact and competitive context issues. For instance, its Pharmaeconomics advocacy aims to benefit those that are directly patronizing their products not only through quick-patch treatment of illness but also other factors such as economic ones. In turn, this advocacy can be considered to have been influenced by the relative lack of knowledge of consumers on proper disease treatment and the importance of the role of medical professionals. Another CSR that may be both a value chain impact and a competitive issue is its partnership with the DOH to eradicate tuberculosis. It is a value chain impact because the company affects this segment in its normal operations. However, this is also clearly a display of concern for consumers who are part of the local demand base. Indeed, one might ask why Unilab would partake in any program that would reduce or eliminate any kind of serious illness, as this would not bode well for business. If people are not sick, they would not need...
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