Consensus emerges on approach for improving access to vaccines

Access to Vaccines Index

After talking to the major stakeholders in the vaccines ecosystem, the Access to Medicine Foundation is now crystallising consensus on how vaccine companies can best approach access to vaccines. This goes hand in hand with the finalisation of metrics for the Access to Vaccines Index, the first in-depth exploration of how vaccine companies are making immunisation more accessible.

Vaccines are one of the most powerful and cost effective health interventions available. Yet 95% of children worldwide are not fully vaccinated – most of whom live in low- and middle-income countries.

Building consensus on the path ahead

Since May, the Foundation has been talking with major stakeholders in the vaccine landscape to build consensus on the role of vaccine manufacturers in increasing access to vaccines. Experts from Gavi , CHAI , UNICEF , the IFPMA , and the WHO , among others, have helped to pinpoint the hurdles that prevent people from being vaccinated, and to strengthen the Foundation’s metrics for capturing company performances. Each metric will measure company responses to a crucial access issue – the risk of vaccine shortages, for example, or the need for new vaccines to tackle lethal diseases.

The level of interest and depth of insight from these experts has been fantastic to see, says Jayasree K. Iyer, Chief Scientific Officer at the Access to Medicine Foundation. Many access issues such as vaccine affordability remain hotly debated, with opposing views on what companies can and should be doing to help. We see a real appetite for this first Access to Vaccines Index, a new tool that will provide constructive and objective evidence of what companies are already doing.

Funded by the Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, this new Index will identify best practices for improving access and share them as widely as possible – first and foremost with companies that can put them into practice. “It will also reveal where action still needs to be taken,” says Jayasree Iyer. “As well as for companies, we expect to illuminate potential actions for other stakeholders in the vaccine space – for the policy makers, market shapers and donors looking to accelerate access to immunisation for particular diseases or populations.”

A new evidence-based tool for change

This is the second Index of healthcare companies to be developed by the Access to Medicine Foundation, drawing on almost ten years’ experience of building stakeholder consensus and of tracking pharmaceutical company performances. As the new Index is dedicated to vaccines, it will be able to go deeper into the issues that specifically prevent access to full immunisation – including for diseases such as Ebola, measles and tuberculosis.

The role for vaccine companies

Through its stakeholder consultations, the Foundation has identified three areas where vaccine manufacturers have a particularly important role to play: in R&D for new and improved vaccines; in ensuring vaccines are affordably priced for all payers; and in ensuring that supply meets demand. These are the three research areas that the Access to Vaccines Index will focus on.

Which companies?

The landscape of vaccine manufacturers is characterised by a highly consolidated group of large multinational players, as well as many smaller companies generally based in emerging markets. All these companies have an important and distinct role to play in increasing access to vaccines.

Vaccine companies already measured by the Access to Medicine Index will now also be included in the Access to Vaccines Index. The Access to Medicine Foundation is currently reaching out to various vaccine manufacturers based in emerging markets in anticipation of their inclusion and use of the first Access to Vaccines Index.

Looking ahead

The Methodology Report for the Access to Vaccines Index will be published in November 2015. The Foundation will also shortly be publishing an analysis of vaccines in the R&D pipeline, and efforts to ensure they will be accessible shortly after market-entry.

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About the Access to Vaccines Index

The 2017 Access to Vaccines Index will provide an initial baseline of industry activity regarding access to vaccines. It will examine where and how companies are already taking action, and bring good practices to the attention of other companies and stakeholders working in the vaccines space. These organisations will be able to use the Index to inform priorities and strategies, and to clarify where new incentives are needed to spur greater positive change. During 2016, the Foundation’s research team will analyse the data captured by the first Access to Vaccines Index, which will be published early in 2017. The Access to Vaccines Index is funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

About the Access to Medicine Foundation

The Access to Medicine Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands. It aims to advance access to medicine in low- and middle-income countries by stimulating and guiding the pharmaceutical industry to play a greater role in improving access to medicine. The Foundation is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UK Department for International Development. For ten years, the Foundation has been building consensus on the role for the pharmaceutical industry in improving access to medicine and vaccines. It published its first benchmark of industry activity in this area in 2008, in the first Access to Medicine Index. The fifth Access to Medicine Index will be published in 2016.

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