A research programme by the Access to Medicine Foundation

How to radically ramp up access to healthcare?

How can we radically ramp up access to healthcare worldwide? This 6th Access to Medicine Index shows where pharmaceutical companies are currently focusing their efforts to improve access. The Index is a guide to what is working, and a tool for inspiring further action.

Public health has seen massive gains in the past decades. Yet, millions of people still face uncertainty when it comes to the supply and affordability of health products. This is not only a problem for people in resource-limited settings, but it is today a global issue. The challenges are complex, going beyond the persistent challenges posed by infectious killers and the rise of lifestyle diseases. Climate change is already affecting the supply of medicines to island nations and isolated communities. With 70% of the world in close contact with animals, zoonotic diseases are sadly part of everyday life for many people. 

The power of priority setting
When there are competing global issues, we know that priority-setting works. It is 40 years since world leaders agreed that primary healthcare is key to improving health for all people. This commitment has been renewed this year in Kazakhstan to ensure no one is left behind. More people are signing up to these priorities, with the SDGs providing a framework for organisations working to improve all health. Governments are advancing universal health coverage (UHC) and implementing national action plans to address areas such as comprehensive cancer care. At the Access to Medicine Foundation, we clarify the priorities for pharmaceutical companies, as innovators and top producers, to improve access to medicine. Each Index reports in detail how companies are performing against these priorities. 

"To close the gaps that remain, a greater diversity of companies must get involved and stay engaged for the long haul."

The risk of a retreat 
In 2018, we find that every single company evaluated is taking greater steps than before, albeit at different paces. The current range of practices and initiatives includes many good examples and ones that are being successfully expanded to cover more people. Most activity we see is being taken by just a few companies, where any retreat could have a catastrophic impact on access and yet many countries and communities have yet to be reached. To close the gaps that remain, a greater diversity of companies must get involved and stay engaged for the long haul.

The question I am asked most often in our work is ‘how can the best pharmaceutical innovations reach the most people?’ The 106 countries covered by the Index are home to 77% of all people alive today. The global reach of the pharmaceutical industry means that much more can be done. This new Index sets out which steps still need to be taken, and highlights the urgency of greater collaborative action.


Learn more

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