August 3, 2015 / All Stories

Disaster relief: planning for the unexpected

When unpredictable disasters strike, such as the Nepal earthquake, AbbVie employees and relief partners work around the clock to get help where it’s urgently needed.

AbbVie and the AbbVie Foundation work closely with humanitarian relief organizations, to enable quick disaster responses globally. Through product donations, AbbVie plans for disasters ahead of time, supporting partners that pre-position medicines in strategic locations to ensure it can be quickly deployed when the need is greatest, such as hurricane and typhoon season.

To date, AbbVie and the AbbVie Foundation have provided $650,000 in cash and medicine donations to our partners responding to the disaster in Nepal, including Direct Relief, AmeriCares, Heart to Heart International, International Medical Corps, MAP International and Project Hope.

“Based on their knowledge of conditions in the disaster zone, our philanthropic partners let us know the type of support that will help the most,” said Thad Smith, Director, Patient Access Programs. “We concurrently evaluate the situation by asking, ‘Do we have employees in the affected area and if so, how have they been impacted? What is the humanitarian impact of the disaster? What level of infrastructure damage was sustained — and what is the ability of the country to respond without outside assistance?’ With those answers in mind, we develop a plan of action.”

In Nepal, the most urgent needs were providing shelter and addressing contaminated water and poor sanitation linked to cholera, dysentery and other water-borne diseases.

It’s hard to imagine a situation where agility is more essential than in a natural disaster like the Nepal earthquake. At AbbVie, everyone from product planners to customer service representatives and the warehouse workers spring into action. Collaboration is quick and seamless. Turn-around time from AbbVie to our partners’ warehouses for product donations is within a two to three-day window.

In addition, the AbbVie Foundation team quickly works to gain approvals and mobilizes cash grants to our partners.

“We ensure that our partners comply with our policies and that they have the necessary approvals from the countries where assistance will be deployed before we make any donations,” Smith said. “Especially in a disaster situation, we must know ahead of time that any medicine or funding will be used as planned.”

Last year, for example, the Abbvie Foundation committed $500,000 to relief agencies to help combat the Ebola virus. The Foundation awarded grants to contain the outbreak by training health workers, educating the community and treating patients and their families. Funds also went for medical supply procurement as well as logistics, warehousing and product distribution assistance.

“While I hope that disasters will never happen, every year they do. It’s inspiring to see AbbVie’s commitment to help people when they face the most difficult situations,” Smith said. “Disaster response is another way that we make a remarkable impact in the lives of people in all parts of the world who find themselves truly in need.”

Visit the Responsibility section for more information on our approach to corporate responsibility.

2015 relief efforts (as of July 2015)

  • Nepal earthquake
  • Texas flooding

2014 relief efforts

  • West Africa Ebola outbreak
  • Balkan Island flooding
  • Dominican Republic flooding
  • Ukraine crisis (HIV product supply chain impact)
  • Philippines Typhoon Hagupit
  • Midwest U.S. tornados, storms and flooding

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Mary Kathryn Steel
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