UK - Responsible investment campaigners FairPensions and international development agency Oxfam, have asked institutional investors to use their shareholder rights to put pressure on pharmaceutical firms.

In a letter sent out today, the organisations urge British pension funds to engage with the pharmaceutical companies in their portfolio.

FairPensions and Oxfam specifically want institutional shareholders to press pharmaceutical firm, Novartis on it legal challenges in India and the Philippines to governments' rights to provide affordable medicines for the poor.

"We do not want to discourage investments in anything, as we think it is more effective if institutional investors become more responsible by staying with the company," said campaign manager at FairPensions, Duncan Exley said in an interview with IPE.

But FairPensions believes investors need to monitor and manage the environmental and social issues as these could affect the performance of investment portfolios by "the potential reputational damage".

"Already, and partly as a result of these cases [such as the Novartis case], developing countries are looking to implement strong domestic legislation which seeks to protect public health safeguards," said FairPensions.