Ethical business banner image

At AstraZeneca, we want to be valued for the medicines we provide and trusted for the way we work, so ethical business practices and integrity underpin everything we do. Our Code of Conduct sets out our core commitments and the high ethical standards expected of everyone at AstraZeneca as we drive our business forward.

We are committed to delivering consistently high ethical standards of sales and marketing practices worldwide and to working with only those third parties who embrace standards of ethical behaviour that are consistent with our own. We also aim to make a positive contribution to our local communities, wherever we are located in the world.

What we're doing


Our Global Compliance function exists to drive and embed a culture of ethics and integrity within our organisation. Global Compliance has around 200 staff, who work across the company to help implement compliance programmes within their geographic or functional area. They work within the business to promote adherence to our policies and standards through effective training, monitoring and assurance processes. We want to make it as easy as possible for our employees to do the right thing, which is why we are moving to a more principles-based approach in some of our higher-level policies. We support this by focusing our online training on real-life scenarios tailored to specific roles.

Addressing non-compliance

In 2014, there were 1,847 instances, most of them minor, of non-compliance with our Code of Conduct, global policies or related control standards in our Commercial Regions, including instances by contract staff and other third parties. We removed 213 employees or contractors from their roles as a result of these breaches (a single breach may involve more than one person). We also formally warned 454 others and provided further guidance or coaching on our policies to 1,573 more. The most serious breaches are raised with the Audit Committee.

Sales and marketing practices

It is very important to AstraZeneca that the public has confidence in our approach to sales and marketing. Our Global Policy on Ethical Interactions describes what is required of our people to meet our commitment to operate ethically and with integrity. The policy spells out our zero tolerance regarding bribery and corruption and sets out key principles for appropriate product promotion and other important topics. We also have a network of nominated signatories who review our promotional materials against applicable requirements. In 2014, audit professionals from our Internal Audit Services function also conducted compliance audits on selected marketing companies. When we work with suppliers, distributors and partners on the sales and marketing of our products, we do appropriate due diligence to ensure we’re using reputable third parties and have continued oversight of their activities. We also actively engage with these organisations to make sure that they are all operating to standards of ethical practice that are consistent with our own.


Working with suppliers

Monitoring standards and performance across the 45,000 suppliers we use around the world helps protect our business and, most importantly, the patients who use our medicines. We expect every company that sells us a product or a service (including contractors, joint venture partners and research or licensing partners) to meet the standards set out in our Global Standard Expectations of Third Parties, which covers a range of social, ethical and environmental issues.

During 2014, we implemented a new Third Party Risk Management process that uses defined criteria to categorise suppliers as either high or low risk. The process allows us to identify where suppliers need to make improvements to meet and maintain our high standards and, in some cases, it identifies those suppliers that we no longer wish to work with. At the end of 2014, we had completed 3,224 assessments using the new process, taking the total number of assessments using both the old and new processes to 10,811 since 2009.

We conducted 40 audits on direct materials suppliers to ensure they employ appropriate quality, health and safety practices. 37 percent of suppliers met our expectations and 54 percent implemented improvements to address minor non-compliances. During our due diligence process, we identified and rejected 33 suppliers, including five for reputational-related concerns.

Community investment

Wherever AstraZeneca is located worldwide, we aim to make a positive contribution to our local communities through sponsorships, partnerships, charitable donations and other initiatives that are consistent with improving health and promoting science education.

While we have a global approach to community investment, our local markets also have the flexibility to address local issues. For example, last year, 1,290 AstraZeneca employees from eight countries across Asia took part in the Diabetes Patients in Our Hearts programme, designing their own local initiatives to help tackle this serious disease that now affects seven percent of the world’s adult population.

In 2014, we extended for a further three years our UK partnership with Career Academies UK (soon to be called Career Ready), a national charity that links schools and colleges with employers to help prepare young people for the world of work. Our support is helping them to promote increased participation by 16 to 19 year olds in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Providing financial and product support

In 2014, we spent $880 million (2013: $1.2 billion) on community investment sponsorships, partnerships and charitable donations, including our product donation and patient assistance programmes, which make our medicines available free of charge or at reduced prices.

The British Red Cross continues to act as our global disaster relief partner. In 2014, we donated £250,000 to the Ebola Appeal to support the work of the local Red Cross agencies to contain and prevent further outbreaks in the places worst affected by Ebola. We also donated £50,000 through the British Red Cross Gaza Israel Appeal to support the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in helping the victims of the Gaza and Israel conflict. Funds were used to replenish medical supplies and equipment, provide emergency shelter and household items and support the ongoing relief to those in most need.

Young Health Programme

Young Health Programme

Currently, an estimated 38 million people die each year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. In most regions, NCDs have emerged as the leading cause of death and disability and NCD-related deaths are increasing, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

Launched in 2010, AstraZeneca’s Young Health Programme (YHP) has a unique focus on young people and the prevention of most common NCDs, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart and respiratory disease. Working with over 30 expert organisations and combining on-the-ground programmes, research and advocacy, it targets the risk behaviours, such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse and unhealthy eating, that can lead to these diseases in adulthood. A particular focus is placed on working with marginalised young people.

Since 2010, we have reached over 1.2 million young people in 18 countries, across five continents. We have also achieved our Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action of reaching 500,000 young people directly and indirectly with information regarding NCD prevention.

Over 9,500 young people have been trained to share health information with their peers and the community and over 10,000 frontline health providers have been trained in adolescent health, so supporting the sustainability of YHP activities.

Find out more on the AstraZeneca Young Health Programme website.