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SASB releases provisional health care standards

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Aug 05, 2013

The U.S. Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) has released its first series of provisional Sustainability Accounting Standards covering the health care sector. The standards are designed to be used by U.S. and foreign public companies in preparing and lodging information in their Form 10-K or 20-F with the SEC.

The provisional SASB standards cover six industry categories within the overall health care sector: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies, health care delivery, health care distributors, and managed care.

Each SASB standard has two aspects:

  • Disclosure guidance. This guidance identifies sustainability topics at an industry level that may be material to a company within that industry. However, responsibility for determining whether a particular topic is material to a particular company rests with each company.
  • Accounting standards. These are standardized metrics used to account for performance in each of the industry-level sustainability topics, designed to ensure "useful, relevant, comparable and auditable" measures.

For example, the standard for biotechnology identifies topics such as access to medicines, drug safety and side affects, and affordability and fair pricing. An example of an accounting metric for "drug safety and effects" is a "list of products recalled."

The SASB standards are available on the SASB's Web site (registration required).

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