The pension funds for healthcare professionals, GPs, government workers, and the education sector are investing in the pharmaceutical company Aurobindo Pharma. The company’s actions in India have been reckless when it comes to people and the environment. An investigation by ZEMBLA has found that the Indian multinational Aurobindo underpays its employees and violates health and safety regulations. According to experts, this is done to cut costs. The company has also been found to dispose of chemical effluents illegally, causing harm to both people and the environment. Every day, around 60,000 boxes of Aurobindo medicines are dispensed by Dutch pharmacies.
ZEMBLA has found that the ABP, PFZW, and SPH pension funds all hold shares in the controversial company. ABP has €27 million in Aurobindo shares, PFZW holds €5.2 million and SPH has invested €0.25 million. The three pension funds have told ZEMBLA that they are aware of and will take their responsibility regarding the situation with Aurobindo. SPH responds with the following statement: 'These findings are serious and are not in keeping with SPH's vision of socially responsible investment.'
PFZW states that it is involved with large pharmaceutical companies when it comes to environmental issues. This has not been the case with Aurobindo up until now. PFZW says it has called on other investors to intensify the pressure on Aurobindo.
ABP, which has invested in Aurobindo since mid 2014, says it will be in contact with the company's management. 'If it is revealed that Aurobindo employs unacceptable business practices, then we could sell off our investments in this company.'
Many of our cheap medicines are manufactured in developing countries such as India and China. ZEMBLA investigated the conditions in which cheap medicines are produced in India. In the ZEMBLA episode entitled The real price of cheap medicine, experts say that Aurobindo exploits its employees and causes substantial environmental pollution.