Toward 2021: spurring the pharma industry to reach “the 2 billion to go”
What direction do we plan to take in the coming 5 years? Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director, Access to Medicine Foundation, shares the next steps and strategic goals for the organisation to achieve by 2021.
There are two billion people worldwide who cannot access the medicine they need – most of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. Pharmaceutical and vaccine companies, as innovators and producers of life-saving medicine, act early in the value chain. If they take just one positive step, the impact can be huge – with significant savings for healthcare budgets, and of course, in terms of human life and wellbeing.
At the Access to Medicine Foundation, we catalyse the efforts of pharmaceutical companies to reach the two billion. We believe companies need to focus on how they deploy their products, and, as global citizens, collaborate on the development of strong health systems. Sustainable Development Goal 3 makes clear that health is key for sustainable development, and that the role of the private sector is critical.
To achieve universal health coverage, for example, we urgently need to solve the affordability question and build resilient health systems world- wide. Strong, innovative pipelines and a framework for stewardship are needed to halt the spread of antimicrobial resistance. To ensure global health security, including for the poor and vulnerable, we must look at the incentives for innovation and guarantee a sustainable and reliable supply of healthcare products and services. Underpinning all of this, we need models that support collaboration, open access and fair competition.
For the past ten years, our Foundation has been guiding pharmaceutical companies on the actions they can take to improve access to medicine. For most of this time, our main tool has been the Access to Medicine Index. It ranks the world’s 20 biggest pharmaceutical companies on their access-to-medicine performances, as measured against our unique frame- work of priority actions, aligned with multi-stakeholder consensus. It uses public recognition of good performance as a positive incentive for companies to compete to be the best, while also identifying where there is still more to be done.
This approach works. The methodology framework at the heart of the Access to Medicine Index has been adopted in companies’ access strategies. We have seen the pride of access teams as their companies rise in the Index; and we have seen them strive for change when they don’t. In 2015, an independent impact evaluation of the Access to Medicine Index confirmed its power as a tool for change.
In the five years to 2021, the Foundation will develop a family of tools for stimulating and guiding pharmaceutical companies to do more for access to medicine. Alongside the Access to Medicine Index, there are plans for an Access to Generics Index. Together, these indices can bring pro-access and inclusive business models into the mainstream, while guiding companies on specific actions they can take. Our Access to Vaccines Index and a new industry benchmark on antimicrobial resistance will focus on key international health priorities and the role for the private sector in addressing these issues. We will continue to evaluate company performance on specific themes, such as oncology, child health and a affordability, to trigger engagement and action. Each tool will bring about change and reflect the differences between markets and between areas of medicine.
Between 2017 and 2021, we will use these tools to work toward five shifts in pharmaceutical industry practice, as set out in this strategy. These shifts will help ensure companies’ business models are sustainable and inclusive, leaving no-one behind. Work with us at the Access to Medicine Foundation to reach ‘the two billion to go’.
Jayasree K. Iyer