Focus: Corporate Responsibility - Side by side

Schering-Plough, the pharmaceutical company, and Adfam, the charity that supports families of addicts, are exploring how they can develop their partnership.

NICOLAY SORENSEN, COMMUNICATIONS CO-ORDINATOR, ADFAM

We first encountered Schering-Plough in 2003 when it ran an audit of charities in the substance misuse sector. We both have an interest in this and, although we help drug users' families rather than users themselves, our support workers still need information about potential treatments.

We want to find out more about a heroin substitute that the company has manufactured, but we're careful to be seen as independent.

The company sponsored our 21st anniversary event last year to the tune of several thousand pounds. This allowed us to thank all our supporters and allowed them to enjoy themselves rather than dig into their own pockets.

I was initially sceptical of how the relationship would work. But Schering-Plough has demanded very little exposure and there was never a hard sell about its products.

This is our first step in the direction of CSR, which means we don't know quite how the partnership will develop. However, we're a charity and anything that will help people in treatment and their families is great for us.

ANDY DYSON, PATIENT ADVOCACY DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, SCHERING-PLOUGH

The 21st anniversary event worked really well, so we decided to look for opportunities to work together in the future. We're trying to find common ground and look for things that are of benefit to Adfam. Our discussions are still at very early stages, but we'd like perhaps to sponsor research into the treatment of people who have substance misuse problems - to examine, for example, how long they had to wait for treatment, what they received and whether it was successful.

As a company, we work with lots of charities across many therapeutic areas, but this is the first time we've partnered with an organisation focused on the families and carers of users.

We didn't go to this sponsorship with a game plan that would give us anything concrete, such as promotion. However, we do produce a substitute treatment for opiate misusers that is, in effect, a competitor to methadone.

The benefits to us are that we'll be perceived as a company that is really involved in the treatment of substance misuse in its widest sense rather than just being out there selling the product.

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