It’s become commonplace to talk about the demanding regulatory and enforcement environment that pharmaceutical companies face. The number and size of recent settlements keep this topic top-of-mind for many. Recent settlements by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer created significant board oversight requirements, underlining questions about what the role of the board should be in ensuring compliance.

If all boards have obligations to oversee corporate affairs, or a “duty of care”, how do the obligations of a pharma company board differ from those in other industries? Pharma companies face compliance risks across a range of functional areas, from research to marketing, as well as in manufacturing quality control, clinical studies quality control, drug safety reporting, physician relationships, and more. As a result, one argument is that this industry requires more — more effectiveness, capability, understanding, appropriate “tone from the top” — from pharma boards.

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