• Countering Distrust with Transparency

    Starting today, safety-relevant information from our Crop Protection business is available online.

 

Countering Distrust with Transparency

We are living in an era of mistrust, where facts count for less and less and political debates are frequently driven by allegations, images and emotions. Surveys indicate that public trust in practically all of society’s institutions is dwindling. In Germany, for example, according to the Global Trust Report 2017 from the GfK Verein market research think-tank, only 18 percent of the population trust the political parties, 30 percent trust large corporations and 45 percent trust the media.

Kemal Malik

Kemal Malik

Kemal Malik is a member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, responsible for innovation

But if there is no trust and nothing can be said with certainty to be true, what can we base our decisions on? Mistrust is no foundation for shaping the future.

We therefore all have to take steps to ensure that trust can grow again. For us as a company, that means that we want to engage in dialog with all segments of society. After all, only if we talk with one another can we bridge the trenches that are emerging between the political camps and the “filter bubbles” in the internet.

But honest and fruitful dialog needs transparency. Nothing creates more mistrust than things that are done covertly, giving people the impression that they are being withheld information for no apparent reason.

That’s why, starting today, we are making it possible for everybody to access all safety-relevant information from our Crop Protection business. At https://cropscience-transparency.bayer.com, we will make summaries of study results and assessments available for downloading and will also provide initial complete safety study reports for non-commercial purposes on request. As such, Bayer is taking a leadership role in driving transparency. In a second phase, which is planned for early 2018, access will also be granted to additional full study reports for non-commercial purposes on request. Infographics and videos will help make the scientific information more understandable and put it into context.

Incidentally, Bayer has been committed to ensuring public access to information about its clinical trials in the Pharmaceuticals segment for many years. These data can be accessed with the Bayer Trial Finder which is located on the homepage of our Pharmaceuticals Division (www.pharma.bayer.com) and at www.ClinicalTrials.gov. Furthermore, researchers and physicians can also obtain even more detailed information from us on request. This is our response to the frequent accusation that pharmaceutical trial reports are only made public when their results are in the respective company’s interests.

These activities show how important transparency is to us. In this way, we are building a bridge between public interest and our scientists, who firmly believe that they are making a valuable contribution in the interests of enhancing medical care and ensuring an adequate supply of food to the global population.

Very few people appreciate how scrupulously the work that goes into the research and development of drug products and crop protection products is conducted. This meticulous work is reflected by the enormous amount of time and money that goes into these projects. The development of a new drug product, for example, currently costs more than EUR 1 billion on average and generally takes more than 10 years. The situation is very similar in the crop protection industry. In this segment, only one of approximately 100,000 investigational substances will ultimately make it through to the market, after the – on average – 13 years and 1,200 registration studies that are required before a new active ingredient can be used on crop plants.

There are naturally also limits to transparency. In the case of clinical trials, it goes without saying that sensitive patient data must remain protected. And, of course, we have to ensure that our intellectual property does not fall into the hands of our competitors – after all, our entire business model as an innovative company depends on this information. But we are working on finding the right balance between the greatest possible transparency and the requisite level of confidentiality, so that we can create the level of trust that society needs to function.