Access To Medicine Index Finds Progress In Pharma’s Efforts 14/11/2016 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The Access to Medicine Index 2016 was published today, analysing the top 20 research-based pharmaceutical companies. The index looks at how those companies make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics more accessible in low- and middle-income countries. The index found progress in companies’ efforts to improve access but little support for flexibilities enshrined in international trade rules. The index highlights best and innovative practices, and areas where progress has been made and where action is still required. It has been published every two years since 2008. The 10 best performing companies according to the index were: GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis AG, Merck KGaA, Merck & Co, Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Gilead Sciences, AbbVie, and Novo Nordisk. Moderate progress has been noted by the index in the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to improve access to medicine, in particular when it comes to refining the way access activities are organised, the development of relevant products, the waiving of patent rights in the poorest countries, and the granting of licences to make generic versions of products. However, the index notes, in some areas there has been no noticeable progress, such as in a key measure of affordability: the proportion of products covered by pricing schemes that take into account the ability to pay. The index also noted that companies generally do not systematically target populations with the highest needs in their registration, pricing and licensing actions. It also highlighted the fact that licensing practices are increasing but exclude key middle-income countries, such as Mexico, Ukraine and Thailand, although middle-income countries are home to the majority of the world’s poor. According to the index, companies have more research and development projects that address specific needs of people in low and middle-income countries than in 2014 (420 in 2016, 93 more than 2014). The pipeline heavily focuses on five diseases: lower respiratory infections, diabetes, malaria, viral hepatitis and HIV/AIDS – “diseases that place relatively large burdens on low and middle-income countries and either have large commercial markets, or tend to be highly prioritised by stakeholders,” the index remarks. The index also found that there is limited support for flexibilities provided in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). As in 2014, the index notes, “companies acknowledge these flexibilities to a limited extent.” “AstraZeneca goes further than most, acknowledging that countries are free to determine what constitutes a ‘public health emergency’,” it said. Only one company, Merck KGaA, acknowledges that it is the right of countries to determine grounds for compulsory licences, according to the index. However, it found that “all 20 companies were linked, via trade association membership, either to lobbying for the application of IP protection that exceeds the provisions set out in the original TRIPS agreement, or to influencing legislation intended to enable countries to take advantage of TRIPS flexibilities.” However, said the index, it is possible for companies to take contrasting positions to those taken by the associations of which they are members. Image Credits: flickr-dfid-uk-department-for-international-development Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."Access To Medicine Index Finds Progress In Pharma’s Efforts" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.