Our history

The Access to Medicine Foundation was founded in 2003 by Dutch entrepreneur, Wim Leereveld. It started with a single idea: how can we encourage the pharmaceutical industry to do more to help the world’s poorest people access the medicine they need?

An idea takes root

Wim Leereveld established the Access to Medicine Foundation in 2003 with the aim of stimulating the pharmaceutical industry to do more for the two billion people who still lack access to medicine. 

Over the next five years, many of the leading minds already working on this question were approached to cooperate with the Foundation. The result was consensus around a list of ambitious, but achievable actions for pharmaceutical companies to take. 

The first Index

In 2008, this list formed the basis of the first Access to Medicine Index, ranking 20 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies on their policies and practices for improving access to medicine. It was the first Index to focus on a specific industry sector and topic related to corporate social responsibility.

Dr Margaret Chan speaks about the 2012 Access to Medicine Index at a WHO/WIPO/WTO symposium

Foundation grows

The Access to Medicine Index has been published every two years since 2008. Under the leadership of Dr. Jayasree K. Iyer, who became Executive Director in 2015, the Access to Medicine Foundation has gone on to expand its research programmes. In addition to the Index, the Foundation publishes analyses of access to vaccines and the pharmaceutical industry's efforts to address antimicrobial resistance:

The 6th Access to Medicine Index was published in November 2018. It is now the longest-running and most detailed analysis of pharmaceutical company action on access to medicine. It analyses the actions of 20 of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, across 106 low- and middle-income countries and 77 diseases, conditions and pathogens. In May 2018, a 10-year analysis, 'Are pharmaceutical companies making progress when it comes to global health?' was published, drawing on ten years of data from the Access to Medicine Index.

The first Access to Vaccines Index was published in March 2017. This data-driven tool maps how eight key vaccine companies are responding to global calls to increase access to vaccines for populations at risk of disease. By uncovering which access mechanisms are working in the vaccine industry, where and why, the Access to Vaccines Index is intended to help ensure global vaccine markets serve all populations. 

The first Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark was published in January 2018. The Foundation launched the Benchmark at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The Benchmark is the first independent analysis of pharmaceutical industry efforts to tackle drug resistance. It evaluates 30 pharmaceutical companies, including those with the largest R&D divisions, the largest market presence, and specific expertise in developing critically needed medicines and vaccines. The 2020 Antimicrobial Resistance Benchmark provided an updated analysis on where the pharmaceutical industry is taking action.

Bill Gates speaks about the significance of the Access to Medicine Index at 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos. 

About the Founder

During his 12 years leading the Foundation, Wim oversaw the growth of his idea into a widely respected tool for stimulating pharmaceutical companies to take action on access to medicine issues. In October 2015, Wim handed over the leadership of the Foundation to Jayasree K. Iyer. 

Without the cooperation and consensus of the biggest pharmaceutical companies and all of their stakeholders, it is impossible to address today’s global health challenges. There are still so many people worldwide who cannot access the medicine they need. At the same time, I see that the will from all stakeholders to reach them is rapidly growing.” 

– Wim Leereveld, Founder of the Access to Medicine Foundation.

Learn more

View our detailed overview of each company’s performance in the Index, including breakdowns of their product portfolios and R&D pipelines.

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