Workshop on expanding access to generic medicine – Meeting Report
Taking access to the next level: mobilising five essential healthcare sectors
Generic medicines remain out of reach for millions
Generic medicines work in the same way and offer the same benefits as brand-name versions. By manufacturing on a large scale, generic medicine manufacturers can supply billions of doses of essential medicines to the world. With multiple companies able to produce the same generic medicines, competition has driven down prices for many essential treatments.
In spite of this, generic medicines are not always accessible for everyone who needs them. Due to a lack of reliable local production and disrupted supply chains, people in low- and middle-income countries often struggle to access safe and reliable sources of generic medicines.
Even where supplies are available, cost remains a huge barrier: in many of the world’s poorest regions, people are forced to pay the full cost of healthcare out-of-pocket, putting an unbearable strain on living expenses. Meanwhile, medicines that are standard in high-income settings may be incompatible with the needs of populations in low- and middle-income countries, or may be difficult to store and transport safely.
Manufacturers have the power to make a difference
The supply of generics is increasingly dominated by a few large manufacturers. These companies not only have the large-scale manufacturing capacity needed to supply low- and middle-income markets, but they also have the R&D expertise to ensure that generic versions meet the needs of people living in such countries.
There are three key areas where manufacturers can act to ensure generic medicines reach those who need them:
Improve supply and quality by increasing local manufacturing capacity, addressing shortages and stockouts, strengthening supply chains, and ensuring Good Manufacturing Practice standards are applied
Invest in R&D for global health priorities and adapt medicines to the needs of patients in low- and middle-income countries
Build partnerships for essential products by registering medicines widely in low- and middle-income countries and engaging in non-exclusive voluntary licenses
How we work to mobilise generic medicine manufacturers
At the Access to Medicine Foundation, we mobilise generic medicine manufacturers to improve access to essential health products in low- and middle-income countries. We have been tracking a cross-section of the world’s largest generic medicine manufacturers since 2017 as part of the Foundation’s work on antimicrobial resistance, and have begun to expand this to monitor performance across more therapeutic areas.
By applying our proven model for change, we can stimulate the major players to take action. To achieve maximum impact, we engage companies with dominant positions in key regional markets, including some of the largest companies in the generics sector. For each company, we critically analyse its unique role in improving the supply of essential healthcare products, depending on its portfolio, R&D commitments, and manufacturing and distribution footprint.
Leveraging our convening power, we bring together experts working within and alongside the generics industry to explore strategies for improving access. In a dedicated virtual workshop held in April 2022, eight multinational generics manufacturers came together for the first time with representatives from global health organisations, procurement agencies and government bodies. In another event held in February 2022 as part of our Amsterdam Sessions roundtable series, we brought leading global health experts to the table to discuss ways to fix supply chains and improve global health security.
By identifying key opportunities for generics manufacturers to act, we can empower the industry become more responsive to global health challenges.
Explore our research sectors
Medical gas companies
We stimulate the industry to ensure availability for treatments and procedures.