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Industry Responds to Tsunami Victims

Donations of cash, services, and materials follow massive tragedy in Asia

by Marc S. Reisch
January 10, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 2


Not since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, has there been such an outpouring of corporate sympathy and largess for the victims of disaster.

As the number of confirmed dead from the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami now approaches 150,000, many chemical and pharmaceutical industry companies are sending help.

Already, private relief agencies; airlifts organized by the U.S. and other countries; and authorities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and other affected regions have mobilized to assist survivors. Worldwide, governments have pledged more than $4 billion in aid.

But DuPont CEO Charles O. Holliday Jr. points out that "disaster relief on this scale requires not just the resources of governments and nongovernmental organizations. It also depends on the generosity of companies and individuals." DuPont, like many other firms, pledged its own cash and promised to match employee contributions to aid survivors. DuPont itself is sending $1 million in cash and products such as protective clothing for relief workers, food, and disinfectant.

Because the need for medicines is so great, a number of pharmaceutical firms are stepping in to help. In addition to a cash donation of $10 million to local and international relief organizations, Pfizer is contributing $25 million worth of anti-infective products. GlaxoSmithKline has already provided more than 2 million doses of antibiotics to the disaster area and plans a donation of $3.8 million to relief operations.

Abbott Laboratories is sending $2 million in funding and another $2 million in prescription drugs and nutritional aids. Roche has promised enough antibacterial and antibiotic medicines to treat 80,000 people. Sanofi-Aventis said 70,000 packs of antibiotics, antidiarrhea medicines, and antibacterial treatments are on their way to Sri Lanka.

General Electric pledged more than $10 million in cash, products, and services. It has promised to deploy mobile water filtration plants, as well as portable medical equipment including X-ray and ultrasound equipment.

Dow Chemical pledged $5 million to the disaster relief effort, including $1 million in funds matching individual contributions from Dow employees and retirees. ExxonMobil also pledged $5 million in assistance. BASF promised $1.3 million and promised to match employee contributions through Jan. 31.

In the first four days following the disaster, Bayer donated money and goods worth $600,000, and local subsidiaries in Asia supplied technical assistance, relief workers, and medicines.

ACS Board Chairman James D. Burke and President William F. Carroll have urged ACS members to contribute to their nations' appeals for financial relief to benefit victims. In a letter to chemical societies in stricken countries, the two have offered ACS assistance in restoring science and engineering infrastructure.



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