May 24, 2016

In a groundbreaking announcement, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer recently implemented significant controls to prevent its drugs from being used in lethal injections.

Pfizer makes its products solely to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve. We strongly object to the use of any of our products in the lethal injection process for capital punishment. ~ A statement issued by Pfizer

Pfizer is the second-largest pharmaceutical company in the world – its decision will have enormous impact, making it nearly impossible for states to get lethal injection drugs in safe, legal ways. The impact, though, is less about states’ supply and demand, and even less about loss of revenue for Pfizer. It is much more about a company deciding to take a risk, and make a stand for their mission and values.

Pfizer, though remarkable for their actions, is not alone. A handful of global giants have made similar decisions in recent years and put into place strategies to uphold what they say they believe. They are walking the walk.

  • CVS decided to pull cigarettes off their shelves, giving up nearly $2 billion in revenue. Not an easy decision, but CVS stood by their position as part of the health care system and banked on the addition of services like clinics to retain their leadership in the category and regain their profits among the socially conscious.
  • There’s also Costco, which despite potentially alienating a large part of its target shopper, prohibits anyone but a police officer from carrying firearms in their stores. Costco has not suffered – it remains the biggest of the big box retailers and its revenues are increasing.
  • And Disney, which now provides carrots, grapes and milk instead of French fries and soda with kids’ meals in their theme parks, and does not allow commercials for what they deem “junk food” on their television stations.

These examples are remarkable in that each company decided to take a stand and not let a sale trump their greater value. They are honoring something bigger than the immediate gain – and their payoff is a long-term benefit for the strength of their brand.