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2023/2024  KAN-CCBLV2302U  Access to medicine - Pharmaceutical MNCs’ strategies to provide health solutions in developing countries

English Title
Access to medicine - Pharmaceutical MNCs’ strategies to provide health solutions in developing countries

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Start time of the course Autumn
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Min. participants 40
Max. participants 60
Study board
Study Board for BSc and MSc in Business, Language and Culture, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Michael Wendelboe Hansen - Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC)
Coordinated with Michael Hedegaard (DTU/CBS)
Main academic disciplines
  • CSR and sustainability
  • Finance
  • Globalisation and international business
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 08-02-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
At the end of the course and against the backdrop of the course literature, students should be able to:
  • Understand the empirical field of corporate philanthropy and sustainable business in the pharmaceutical/health care industry in developing countries.
  • Understand, apply and critically assess theories and frameworks related to sustainable business and corporate philanthropy in the pharmaceutical industry in developing countries.
  • Understand, apply and critically assess methodologies for calculating the social, environmental and financial impacts and efficiency of corporate philanthropy and sustainable business models in the pharmaceutical industry in developing countries.
  • Understand and critically assess the various financing models that can be brought to bear in connection with MNCs providing access to medicine in developing countries.
  • Understand and critically assess the role of digital solutions to sustainable business and corporate philanthropy challenges in the pharmaceutical industry in developing countries
Course prerequisites
The course is specifically designed to provide students having a basic understanding of applied business administration and finance with skills to conduct practice-oriented analysis of sustainable business and corporate philanthropy in developing countries.
Prerequisites for registering for the exam (activities during the teaching period)
Number of compulsory activities which must be approved (see section 13 of the Programme Regulations): 1
Compulsory home assignments
Group presentation of an analysis of a case of a corporate philanthropy and/or sustainable business challenge in the pharmaceutical industry must be made during the course and must be approved by faculty before students can take the exam.

Students who due to illness or other excused absence cannot participate in the group presentation shall instead individually hand in a three page assignment that must be approved by faculty.

Oral presentations etc.
Access to medicine - Pharmaceutical MNCs' strategies to provide health solutions in developing countries:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Home assignment - written product
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Size of written product Max. 10 pages
Assignment type Case based assignment
Release of assignment Subject chosen by students themselves, see guidelines if any
Duration 2 weeks to prepare
Grading scale 7-point grading scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Winter
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach


Pharmaceutical multinational corporations (MNCs) face a number of ethical, strategic and organizational challenges in developing countries, where there are huge un-met needs for health solutions and technologies but also limited purchasing power in large segments of the population and limited state capacity to deliver solutions. 


Sometimes these challenges are addressed through Creating Shared Value approaches (Porter and Kramer, 2011) or sustainable business models (Osterwalder and Pigneurare, 2011). At other times, challenges are addressed through corporate social responsibility (CSR) or corporate philanthropy (Bluestone, 2002). Whatever strategy is adopted, pharmaceutical MNCs typically rely on broad partnerships with host governments, impact funds, NGOs and industry players to provide access to medicine in developing countries (Widdus, 2017).


This course will, with the point of departure in literatures on International Business (see e.g. Khan et al, 2015), Sustainable Business Models (see e.g. Smith, 2016), Corporate Social Responsibility (see e.g. Droppert and Bennet, 2015), Impact Investing and Finance (see e.g. Ngosong et al., 2015), Corporate Philanthropy (see e.g. Bluestone et al, 2002), and Digtial Solutions  in development (see e.g. Blaya et al, 2010), try to understand the strategic, organizational and technological challenges and dilemmas that face pharmaceutical MNCs when they roll out activities in developing countries.


Among the questions addressed in the course are:


- How can pharmaceutical MNCs most effectively reach the poorest and most vulnerable segments in developing countries?

- How can MNCs position themselves between sustainable business models and philanthropy in developing countries?

- How do contextual factors influence the effectiveness of different MNC strategies to provide access to medicine?

- How can MNCs finance access to medicine in developing countries?

- How can pharmaceutical MNCs organize their value chains in developing countries to provide effective access to medicine?

- How can MNCs measure and communicate access to medicine activities in developing countries, e.g.in connection with ESG and SDG reporting

- What are the kinds of technologies and digital solutions that best support sustainable business models and philanthropic activities in developing countries?


The course will provide insights from a number of pharmaceutical companies operating in developing countries. In particular, cases and evidence from the Novo Nordic-Roche partnership on Changing Diabetes in Children (CDiC) will be used extensively, and practitioners from Novo Nordic and Roche will participate in the teaching.

Description of the teaching methods
The course will be conducted through lecturing, exercises and practitioner presentations. The course will combine on-site elements (e.g. case discussions) with on-line elements (e.g. lectures and pre-recorded case introductions).

The course will be taught based on course literature, including real-life business cases developed by faculty in close collaboration with Novo Nordisk A/S and Roche.

Students will actively work on real life cases and make recommendations about long-term sustainability models and project implementation.

The course will blend students from the DTU EuroTeq programme with CBS students, providing a unique opportunity to bring together perspectives from engineering and business studies. All sessions will be have an online option for the EuroTeq students following the course from other European universities.
Feedback during the teaching period
Individual and group feed back and guidance will be provided in connection with exercises and presentations.

Representatives from Novo Nordisk and Roche will participate in the exercises and presentations and will, together with faculty, give feed-back.
Student workload
Lectures 30 hours
Preparation 106 hours
Exam 70 hours
Expected literature


Beran, D., and John S. Yudkin (2006). “Diabetes care in sub-Saharan Africa”. The Lancet. Vol. 368. November 11, 2006.


Blaya, Joaquin A., Hamish SF Fraser, and Brian Holt. "E-health technologies show promise in developing countries." Health Affairs 29.2 (2010): 244-251.


Bluestone, Ken, Annie Heaton, and Christopher Lewis. Beyond Philanthropy: The Pharmaceutical industry, corporate social responsibility and the developing world. Oxfam, 2002.


Carroll, A.B. Carroll’s pyramid of CSR: taking another look. Int J Corporate Soc Responsibility 1, 3 (2016).


Droppert, Hayley, and Sara Bennett. "Corporate social responsibility in global health: an exploratory study of multinational pharmaceutical firms." Globalization and health 11.1 (2015): 1-8.


Elkington, J. (2018). 25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It. Harvard Business Review, June. 


Khan, Zaheer, Yong Kyu Lew, and Byung Il Park. "Institutional legitimacy and norms-based CSR marketing practices: Insights from MNCs operating in a developing economy." International Marketing Review (2015).


Kramer, M.R., Agarwal, R. & Srinivas, A. (2019). Business as Usual Will Not Save the Planet. Harvard Business Review, June, 1-9.


Osterwalder, Alexander, and Yves Pigneur. "Aligning profit and purpose through business model innovation." Responsible management practices for the 21st century (2011): 61-76 .


Porter, Michael E., and Mark R. Kramer Shared Value. HBR 2011


Schaltegger, Stefan, Florian Lüdeke-Freund, and Erik G. Hansen. "Business cases for sustainability: the role of business model innovation for corporate sustainability." International journal of innovation and sustainable development 6.2 (2012): 95-119 .


Scheyvens, R., Banks, G., & Hughes, E. (2016). The Private Sector and the SDGs: The Need to Move Beyond ‘Business as Usual’. Sustainable Development, 24(6), 371–382 


Smith, N. Craig. "From corporate philanthropy to creating shared value: Big pharma's new business models in developing markets." NIM Marketing Intelligence Review 8.1 (2016): 30.


Widdus, Roy. "Public–private partnerships for health: their main targets, their diversity, and their future directions." Global Health. Routledge, 2017. 431-438.

Last updated on 08-02-2023