Ethics and transparency

We want to be valued for the medicines we provide and trusted for the way we work. That means leading the industry by demonstrating ethical and transparent business practices and a responsible approach to research.

We have worked hard to position ourselves as a global leader in the pharmaceutical industry. As a leader, we have a responsibility to hold ourselves to high ethical standards and to demonstrate ethical business practices that other organisations can emulate. We strive for high levels of integrity in everything we do, whether it’s our approach to bioethics, including the use of animals in science, the way we treat the participants in our clinical trials or the scrutiny of our supply chain to ensure our suppliers meet our high standards.


supplier assessments carried out in 2016

$16.5 million

worth of AstraZeneca counterfeit and illegal medicines seized


of staff working with animals appropriately trained in animal care, use, and welfare

What we're doing

Embedding ethical conduct

We insist upon a culture of ethics and integrity throughout our organisation. We require all our employees to take personal accountability for their actions and to demonstrate individual behaviour that is in line with our values. That means engaging them and supporting them to ensure they understand and follow our standards and feel comfortable asking questions or reporting incidents of non-compliance.

We make it as easy as possible for staff to report breaches or concerns anonymously (where appropriate) and with the full knowledge that they will be supported and protected from retaliation. We investigate all reports fully. We have a zero-tolerance approach to bribery and corruption by our own staff and throughout our supply chain.

Managing our supply chain

In order to achieve our goals, complete our research and market our products, we work with suppliers and third parties all over the world. Carefully selecting which third parties we work with on the basis of their ethical standards, and providing support and training to those who want to do better, helps us ensure an ethical pipeline. It also spreads a commitment to human rights, health and safety, environmental sustainability and diversity to a wider number of businesses and organisations.

We regularly audit our suppliers to monitor their compliance with our high ethical standards. If a supplier fails to meet our expectations and is not prepared to work to improve, we are prepared to terminate the relationship.

Ensuring patient safety and product security

Developing a new medicine carries inherent risk and ensuring patient safety is our top priority. At any time, we could have hundreds of clinical trials under way, all over the world. We carry out extensive and rigorous preclinical and clinical testing to establish a potential new medicine’s safety and efficacy.

To ensure the AstraZeneca medicines patients are taking are genuine, we work with partners worldwide to crack down on the illegal trade in medicines, which includes stolen and counterfeit products.

We have committed to allowing external parties to request patient-level data and have developed a suite of 95 different patient engagements to aid communication with clinical trial patients.

A responsible bioethics approach

Bioethics are the principles, behaviours and ethical standards that govern our research and development worldwide. Our Bioethics Policy covers a number of subject areas, including the use of human biological samples (HBS), using animals in research and the conduct of clinical trials.

We are committed to the 3Rs in our work with animals: reduction, replacement and refinement. We also apply high welfare standards to our animals in science and are constantly innovating to achieve welfare improvements.

The use of human biological samples (HBS), such as solid tissue and biofluids, plays a vital role in developing understanding of human diseases. In carrying out this research, we maintain strict policies and processes that ensure we comply with laws and meet regulatory concerns.

We are not involved in any research on human reproductive cloning, for which there is a UNESCO international ban and country-level legislative bans.

Fighting antimicrobial resistance

The increasing resistance of infectious diseases to antibiotics is a global issue. We have previously invested in research and development in infection and are calling on our colleagues across the industry, health leaders, patients, physicians and governments around the world to come together with a multi-stakeholder approach to tackle the global threat that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses to society and the barriers that prevent new antibiotics coming to the market.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos in early 2016, we signed the Davos Declaration on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance along with over 100 other companies. The Declaration acts as a collective call on governments to commit to the investment needed to support the development of new antibiotic technologies.