Big Pharma and Social Responsibility — The Access to Medicine Index
The article sets out the methods of the Access to Medicine Index, touching upon the 2012 Index’ key findings and trends. Moreover, Professor Hogerzeil highlights the value of the Index, emphasizing the movement of companies towards fulfilling, in his own words, the “wish list for company behavior” for improving access to medicine.
Despite much progress in the past decade, about one third of the world’s population still has no regular access to essential medicines. Many of the most neglected people live in sub-Saharan Africa, but another billion live in emerging economies that have widening gaps between rapidly growing middle classes and poor people who live on less than a dollar a day. Such people face many barriers to obtaining necessary medications. Lack of research may mean that medications for their conditions simply do not exist — for instance, safe medicines for sleeping sickness or heat-stable insulin for treating diabetes in tropical climates. Medicines that do exist may be too expensive, may be unavailable in their country, or may not reach them in time. The products may not be of assured quality, safety, and efficacy or may be formulated in unsuitable ways — for instance, there are hardly any fixed dose combination syrups of antiretroviral medicines for children with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The responsibility for resolving these problems lies with many actors, one of which is the pharmaceutical industry.