A research programme by the Access to Medicine Foundation

Product Donations

Donations of medicines and vaccines are an important tool for improving access to medicine in specific circumstances, such as to control, eliminate or eradicate diseases impacting the poorest populations in the world. To safeguard the access that donations bring, it is essential that companies remain engaged until eradication or elimination targets are achieved, or work with governments on transition plans for when the programme ends.

  • Commitments
  • Transparancy
  • Performance
  • Innovation
1 7 Sanofi


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2 1 GlaxoSmithKline plc

GlaxoSmithKline plc

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2 10 Novo Nordisk A/S

Novo Nordisk A/S

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3 5 Novartis AG

Novartis AG

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4 = Eisai Co. Ltd.

Eisai Co. Ltd.

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5 6 Merck KGaA

Merck KGaA

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6 5 Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer Inc.

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7 2 Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck & Co., Inc.

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8 = Bayer AG

Bayer AG

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9 3 Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson

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10 14 Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

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11 15 AstraZeneca plc

AstraZeneca plc

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11 13 Gilead Sciences Inc.

Gilead Sciences Inc.

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11 12 Roche Holding AG

Roche Holding AG

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12 11 Eli Lilly & Co.

Eli Lilly & Co.

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13 9 AbbVie Inc.

AbbVie Inc.

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14 16 Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

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15 17 Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH

Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH

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16 19 Astellas Pharma Inc.

Astellas Pharma Inc.

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17 18 Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd.

Daiichi Sankyo Co. Ltd.

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0 1 2 3 4 5

Sanofi takes the lead with its donation programme for human African Trypanosomiasis achieving a wide geographic coverage of countries in which the disease is endemic. The pack is split into four distinct clusters: 4 leaders (Sanofi to Novartis), followed by a more widely spread group of 5 (Eisai to Bayer), a tightly packed group of 7 (Johnson & Johnson to AbbVie) that donate mainly for non-communicable diseases, and then 4 companies that do not run donation programmes. Just under half of all programmes (16 of 38) address neglected tropical diseases. Companies with one or more structured donation programmes take higher positions in the ranking. All companies ranked in the top ten have at least one structured donation programme.

Leaders stand out for their wide geographic coverage

The leaders in product donations are Sanofi (1st), GSK and Novo Nordisk (joint 2nd), and Novartis (3rd). In general, these companies run donation programmes that cover a wide range of endemic countries and meet the majority of criteria looked for by the Index. This includes taking sustainability into account and transparency around programme scale and impact. 

Sanofi (1st) leads with its donation programme supplying eflornithine (Ornidyl®), melarsoprol (Arsobal®) and pentamidine (Pentacarinat®) that aims to eliminate human African trypanosomiasis in 17 endemic countries. GSK (2nd) donates albendazole (Zentel®) to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in 39 countries, and to control soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH) in 50 countries. Novo Nordisk (2nd) supplies human insulin in 14 countries through its Changing Diabetes in Children (CDiC) programme. 

Novartis (3rd) donates the multi-drug combination therapy rifampicin, dapsone and clofazimine to treat leprosy in 49 countries, as well as imatinib (Glivec®) and nilotinib (Tasigna®) to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in 57 countries.

Sustainability drives change

Rankings in 2018 include an assessment of how companies either plan to ensure access once a programme has concluded, or commit to stay until eradication or elimination goals are achieved. Of the 16 companies with a structured donation programme, 11 take sustainability into account for at least one programme. In order to fairly compare the size of companies' donation programmes, companies were assessed in two categories, based on whether their donation programmes covered (a) short term treatment or (b) long-term treatment (on-going treatment). They were then benchmarked for programme size against group peers. These shifts have contributed to changes in position. 

Novo Nordisk rises 8 (to 2nd) with a high quality donation programme for paediatric diabetes. The company shows that it considers whether access to the medicine can continue once the programme ends. Bristol-Myers Squibb rises 4 (to 10TH) with a newly included donation programme for CML, in partnership with the Max Foundation (cancer is newly in scope in 2018). AbbVie falls 4 (to 13TH), despite having four structured programmes, these programmes reaching a comparatively small number of countries. 

Eli Lilly falls 1 (to 12TH). Although the company donates medicines for diabetes, cancer and mental health, it falls back against measures that assess whether programmes include plans for ensuring access to the medicine can continue once the programme ends. 

Middle group less involved in large-scale activities

The two groups of mid-ranking companies generally run programmes with a narrower geographic reach (measured by number of endemic countries, and benchmarked within peer groups). 

The first group, of five companies (Eisai in 4TH to Bayer in 8TH) run donation programmes that mainly target neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in multiple endemic countries. The second group, of seven companies (Johnson & Johnson in 9th to AbbVie in 13TH), run programmes mainly for non communicable diseases (NCDs) generally with a smaller geographic scale. 

The four companies ranked lowest (Takeda, Boehringer Ingelheim, Astellas and Daiichi Sankyo) do not run structured product donation programmes for products within the scope of the Index.

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