Is the pharmaceutical industry improving with regard to access to essential medicines

Published in The Lancet Global Health

Writing in The Lancet Global Health, Professor Hans Hogerzeil and members of the Index Research Team set out the findings of the first longitudinal analysis based on the Access to Medicine Index. Hans V. Hogerzeil is a Professor of Global Health at the University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He currently chairs the Expert Review Committee for the Access to Medicine Index.

Despite progress in many countries, about a third of the world’s population does not have regular access to essential medicines.  Since 2008, the Access to Medicine Index (the Index) has ranked the 20 largest research-based pharmaceutical companies according to their efforts in making relevant products more available, affordable, and accessible in developing countries.

The 2012 Index ranking is based on companies’ commitments and actions to provide medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic tests in 103 low-income and middle-income countries, focusing on 33 high-burden communicable, non-communicable, and neglected tropical diseases, as well as a range of maternal and neonatal disorders. Information received from companies is cross-checked with other sources, and peer reviewed by experts. The ranking is based on 101 indicators in seven technical areas: organisation and management of access programmes; conduct of relationships with policymakers, competitors, customers, and the public; research and development on relevant products; pricing policies and distribution; patent and licensing practices; capacity building in developing countries; and product donations and philanthropic activities. For each technical area four aspects are assessed: company commitment, transparency, performance, and innovation.

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