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News - published on 29 Oct 2015

2016 Access to Medicine Index to place high emphasis on how pharmaceutical companies perform

Globally, 2 billion people still cannot access the medicine they need. The world’s leading pharmaceutical companies have an important role to play in improving this situation. The Access to Medicine Foundation has published its latest methodology for benchmarking companies’ efforts here. The methodology for the 2016 Access to Medicine Index places greater emphasis on company performance.

“The methodology was developed through careful review, and represents a set of ambitious, yet achievable expectations for pharmaceutical company behaviour regarding access. The worlds poor cannot keep waiting. This tool can be used now to spur further change within companies and across the pharmaceutical industry, says Jayasree K. Iyer (PhD), Executive Director, Access to Medicine Foundation.

The Access to Medicine Index analyses the top 20 research-based pharmaceutical companies with products for high-burden diseases in low- and middle-income countries. The Index ranks these companies according to their efforts to improve access to medicine. It identifies best practices, highlights where progress is being made, and uncovers where critical action is still required. In this way, the Index provides both an incentive and a guide for pharmaceutical companies to do more to improve access to medicine. It is published every two years by the Access to Medicine Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation.

The methodology was developed through careful review, and represents a set of ambitious, yet achievable expectations for pharmaceutical company behaviour regarding access. The world’s poor cannot keep waiting. This tool can be used now to spur further change within companies and across the pharmaceutical industry,” says Jayasree K. Iyer (PhD), Executive Director, Access to Medicine Foundation.

Greater emphasis on performance

The methodology for the 2016 Access to Medicine Index gives greater emphasis to how companies perform: in 2016, 50% of companies’ overall Index scores will depend on what they do in practice. This is the first time since 2012 that the Index has increased the weighting given to performance, and is intended to give recognition to companies that are maturing from commitment-making to action-taking.

Measuring performance where it matters

The 2016 Index will look more closely at whether companies take action where the need is highest. This includes a new measurement of company efforts to ensure products are affordable. The 2016 Index will map companies’ pricing actions against disease burdens and inequality, allowing for a more rigorous benchmarking of how companies consider people’s ability to pay where the access need is especially acute.

Pricing and affordability remain among the most complex areas to measure, says Jay Iyer. The Index team has continued to develop its metrics in this area, together with leading experts in the field. In 2012, the Index assessed tiered pricing practices. In 2014, it looked at whether pricing strategies took explicit account of a products affordability. In 2016, we will deepen our investigation further, to assess how companies design pricing strategies for populations with the greatest need for access to medicine.

The 2016 Index will give more credit to R&D projects that are demonstrably addressing high-need, non-commercial product gaps, as a way of incentivizing companies to step into neglected areas of R&D. The 2016 Index will also include a closer analysis of access-to-medicine strategies in middle-income countries, where socio-economic inequality is often high. In these countries, the Index will probe how companies are balancing the pursuit of lucrative market segments with the responsibility to include the poorest populations in their business models.

What will the 2016 Index measure?

The 2016 Index will measure the same 20 companies as the 2014 Index, as they remain the largest R&D-based pharmaceutical companies with the most relevant expertise and portfolios. Together, they account for more than 50% of the global pharmaceutical market. The geographic scope now totals 107 countries: a handful of countries have moved out of scope, as socio-economic conditions have improved, while others (Iran, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and Peru) have moved into scope. The disease scope for the 2016 Index comprises 50 high-burden conditions and diseases. Since 2014, more up-to-date data on disease burdens have become available, bringing three additional non-communicable diseases into scope. The 2015 methodology comprises 83 indicators, each measuring a specific aspect of company behaviour. Following statistical analyses, certain indicators have been added, and others merged or deleted, either to improve our measurements of company practice, to align with changes in global-health priorities, or to improve efficiencies in analysis and data capture.

From consensus to action

The Index methodology is the product of a rigorous review, including an extensive series of indicator-level analyses, and informed by input from experts working across the access-to-medicine field. For almost ten years now, the Access to Medicine Foundation has built stakeholder consensus on what we can expect from pharmaceutical companies. In 2015, the Foundation held individual and collective discussions with governments, investors, industry, universities, think tanks, policy centres, patient organisations and other research organisations. This includes 40 named independent experts who contributed to the methodology report. Strategic guidance was provided by the Foundation’s Expert Review Committee (ERC), an independent body of experts from, among others, the WHO, governments, patient organisations, the industry, academia and investors.

It is impossible to address todays global health challenges without the cooperation and consensus of the biggest pharmaceutical companies and their stakeholders, says Wim Leereveld, Founder of the Access to Medicine Foundation. Researchers, academics, the global health community, and not least the pharmaceutical companies will value the clear expectations on companies access-to-medicine policies and practices represented in the new methodology.

Toward a new company benchmark

The Foundation will begin collecting data for the 2016 Access to Medicine Index in January next year. Following a staggered process of data submission, clarification and verification, the Index team will identify trends and best practices, benchmarking the access-to-medicine profiles of each company against its peers’. The results will be published in the 2016 Access to Medicine Index report, late next year.


Learn more

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