Topics: Orphan drug, Neglected diseases, Chagas disease Pages: 42 (8457 words) Published: December 3, 2014
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Genzyme’s CSR Dilemma: How to Play Its HAND
On a cold but sunny day in January 2009, as sunlight reflected through the adjustable mirror panels of Genzyme’s landmark “green” headquarters, Jim Geraghty was reflecting on discussions in a just-concluded phone call. Geraghty, senior vice president at Genzyme, had been instrumental in creating the Humanitarian Assistance for Neglected Diseases (HAND) program. Launched in April 2006, HAND was a cornerstone of Genzyme’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, and its steering committee had just completed a conference call meeting to decide its future priorities. Two special invitees on the call—Sandeep Sahney, managing director of Genzyme India, and Rogerio Vivaldi, senior vice president and head of the Latin American operations—had been asked to provide information to help the committee decide which HAND initiative to support going forward. Sahney was championing the malaria research project with the Indian partner ICGEB, while Vivaldi was making a strong case for extending the Brazilian research program on Chagas disease with local partner Fiocruz. There were other options on the table, including the idea of starting a HAND tuberculosis project.

When Sahney and Vivaldi left the call, Geraghty focused the committee members on the recommendations they would take to Henri Termeer, Genzyme CEO. Which research initiative would have maximum impact? What was the right future model for partnering? And what were the funding and resource needs for scaling up the program?

Laying the Corporate Foundation Stonesa
From modest beginnings in 1981 as a supplier of enzymes, fine chemicals, and reagents to research labs and pharmaceutical companies, Genzyme had grown to become a leader in biotechnology with revenues of almost $4 billion in 2007 (see Exhibit 1 for key financial indicators and Exhibit 2 for stock price movement). It had done so by identifying its patients’ needs, targeting a focused technology capability, and developing a set of values that clearly defined its role as a corporation within society. From its earliest days, Genzyme had focused on orphaned diseases (those with too small a population of sufferers to attract drug development attention), a strategy reflected in its portfolio of drugs (see Exhibit 3 for its major products and Exhibit 4 for a portfolio of products for orphan and neglected diseases).

a This section is adapted from Christopher A. Bartlett and Andrew McLean, “Genzyme’s Gaucher Initiative: Global Risk and

Responsibility,” HBS No. 303-048 (Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2002). ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Professors Christopher A. Bartlett and Tarun Khanna and Doctoral Candidate Prithwiraj Choudhury prepared this case. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management.

Copyright © 2009, 2012 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-5457685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to This publication may not be digitized, photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.


Genzyme’s CSR Dilemma: How to Play Its HAND

Nurturing an Early Breakthrough
Two years after creating the company, founder Henry Blair recognized that he needed help in managing his fast-growing start-up. In 1983, he hired Henri Termeer, a 36-year-old division president at medical products giant Baxter International, bringing him in as Genzyme’s president. Recognizing the importance of R&D to build a diversified pipeline of...

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2 Gates Foundation, annual letter, p. 15,, accessed August 15, 2009.
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