Mikkel Stavnsbjerg and Phaedria Marie St Hilaire, Novo Nordisk Denmark

Science & Technology

Bioethics

Our approach

Bioethics

We must stay alert and seek to reconcile the inevitable dilemmas that arise as technology offers new opportunities in research and development and as societal attitudes and norms change.

Bioethics is the term we use for all ethical issues related to the use of life science technologies for the discovery, development and production of pharmaceutical products. 

Recognising and understanding the ethical implications of our business is an ongoing process. Bioethical considerations are a natural part of our decision-making processes and we have learnt from engagements with stakeholders.

This approach has enabled us to raise ethical standards, frame the Novo Nordisk Bioethics Policy and positions, and to develop new guidelines and working procedures.

Our bioethics policy

Our bioethics policy sets our general operational guidelines and is consistent with our objective: to strive to be economically viable, socially responsible, and environmentally sound by considering each of these elements when making business decisions.

Hanne Bodenhoff and Simone K. Nielsen, Novo Nordisk Denmark.

Hanne Bodenhoff and Simone K. Nielsen, Novo Nordisk Denmark

Our bioethics policy states that we:

  • Continuously improve our performance
  • Promote bioethical awareness in Novo Nordisk
  • Operate by high ethical global standards in research involving people, animals, human materials and gene technology
  • Require adherence to high ethical standards by our external partners, contract research organisations and suppliers, and monitor their performance
  • Engage in stakeholder dialogue and partnerships helping us to deal with ethical dilemmas
  • Act in accordance with international conventions

Getting our priorities right

Bioethics governance

As a pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk faces a number of complex bioethical issues which we take very seriously. Novo Nordisk bioethics is governed in the top of our organisation by R&D Management with Executive Management representation.

We address bioethical issues across the company via integration in standard procedures, processes and decision-making and we have a virtual cross-functional team that drives and proactively addresses arising bioethical dilemmas.

One of the ways Novo Nordisk is committed to sustainability in practice is to have a dedicated and systematic approach to drive and proactively address emerging bioethical dilemmas related to research and development. Internal, a network of researchers and managers prepares and suggests new initiatives, develops and implements new positions and guidelines, and supervises the company's handling of evolving bioethical issues worldwide.

Dialogue and collaboration

Novo Nordisk cooperates with institutions and authorities on guidelines for research, animal experimentation and environmental issues. Furthermore, we contribute to the scientific community by publishing research results and by sharing best practices.

An example is the Novo Nordisk's state-of-the-art housing conditions for laboratory animals shared amongst others at the webpages of The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research, NC3R, and RSPCA “implementing the 3Rs”.

E-learning tools on ethical decision-making

We also collaborate with external partners to improve the understanding of bioethical dilemmas. In a rewarding partnership with University of Copenhagen, UNESCO, LRN and Responsible Business Solutions, we have developed two innovative, open source e-learning tools, designed to help navigate the uncharted waters and shores of dilemmas.

The e-learning tools target employees and managers in companies, as well as students and organisations worldwide. The tools are generic and applicable within business training, academic teaching, and inter-governmental organisations.

Our bioethics focus areas