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News - published on 15 Apr 2020

Pharma’s path to 2030 captured in new framework for next Access to Medicine Index

The UN has called for a decade of action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage by 2030. Action by pharmaceutical companies will be essential. The Access to Medicine Foundation has defined priority actions for companies to take by 2030, now published in the methodology report for the next Access to Medicine Index.

Developed through broad-ranging consultations with expert stakeholders, the methodology will track whether and how pharmaceutical companies are taking action to improve access, including in strategy, compliance, R&D, pricing and product delivery. For 2021, the Foundation carried out a broader range of consultations than for previous iterations of the Access to Medicine Index, engaging with more than 100 experts and organisations. 

“The current pandemic poses additional challenges in an already precarious situation for people relying on weak health systems. My team has built consensus around how pharmaceutical companies must act to expand access to medicine. We have a shared responsibility to ensure the most vulnerable among us are not left behind.” Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director, Access to Medicine Foundation.

Where is the pharma industry now on access to medicine?
The Access to Medicine Foundation recently published a 10-Year Analysis that showed pharmaceutical companies have made progress when it comes to access to medicine. Yet, the pace of change is slow. R&D for key diseases has increased, while lagging for other diseases, such as maternal and neonatal health conditions. The use of access tactics such as equitable pricing and voluntary licensing has grown, yet many key products are still not covered. 

New tighter analytical framework
Taking these findings as a starting point, the Foundation spoke with more than 100 stakeholders to define global priorities regarding access to medicine for the next decade – as well as a set of ambitious but realistic actions for pharmaceutical companies to take. The resulting consensus was translated into a new analytical framework for capturing how far the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are meeting society’s expectations on access to medicine. This forms the analytical basis for the next Access to Medicine Index. 

Published every two years, the Access to Medicine Index assesses 20 of the world’s largest R&D-based pharmaceutical companies on their policies and practices to improve access to medicine for people living in low- and middle-income countries. The 20 companies in scope for 2021 account for more than half of global pharmaceutical revenue. Considering their pipelines, portfolios, resources and global reach, these companies have clear opportunities and a responsibility to address access. 

The analytical framework for 2021 has a tightened structure and sharper analytical capacity. The 33 indicators, grouped in three Technical Areas, reflect the priorities for pharma company action.

What the next Index will measure
The 2021 Access to Medicine Index will assess pharmaceutical companies in relation to 106 low- and middle-income countries where better access to medicine is most needed. It looks at 82 diseases, conditions and pathogens, identified as the most critical priorities regarding access to medicine. More than 80% of people alive today live in low- and middle-income countries and face the bulk of the global burden imposed by these diseases.

These include infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis, and emerging infectious diseases such as those caused by coronaviruses and Zika, as well as non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, epilepsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and heart disease. In 2021, greater attention will also be given to diseases affecting cis-gendered women and girls, as the Index now includes additional diseases linked to biological sex: endometriosis and ovarian and uterine cancer. 

“As we work toward the next Index, we will use this latest methodology to guide and steer pharmaceutical companies, and how they match with the many solutions and practices identified in previous iterations of the Index. This research could not be more relevant given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the UN’s calls for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage within the next decade.” Danny Edwards, Research Programme Manager for the Access to Medicine Index.

The Access to Medicine Foundation is now beginning the process of data collection, verification, scoring and analysis for the next Index. The next Index is currently planned for publication in early 2021. Download the full Methodology Report for the 2021 Access to Medicine Index.

About the Access to Medicine Foundation

The Access to Medicine Foundation is an independent non-profit organisation based in the Netherlands, which analyses how the world's largest pharmaceutical companies are addressing access to medicine. Its mission is to stimulate and guide pharmaceutical companies to do more for the people who live in low- and middle-income countries. The Foundation defines the actions pharmaceutical companies can and should be taking through a process of stakeholder consensus building, gathering the views of independent experts in global health, access to medicine and the industry. The Foundation is funded by UK Aid, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, and AXA Investment Managers.

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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.

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