The access to medicine challenge is multi-faceted and therefore requires multiple actors to take responsibility. This includes the scientific research community, local governments, public health and regulatory agencies, overseas development agencies, philanthropists, trade administrators, the non-profit sector including product development partnerships, and both the research-based pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of generic medicines. Pharmaceutical companies, with the resources and the knowledge to develop medicines, have a responsibility to ensure these technologies are made available to people as fundamental human right, regardless of their socioeconomic standing. Moreover, access to medicine creates new routes to market, opening up demand for new and adapted products and expanding their customer-base by billions of people in the developing world, eager and able to buy their products.
The World Health Organization promotes access to healthcare as a fundamental human right, which is mirrored in the philosophy of the Access to Medicine Foundation. Most diseases are treatable, and yet millions of people lack access to diagnostics, vaccines and treatments because they are unaffordable, or simply unavailable in their country. Illness and large portions of household income are spent on medicine, and are a major reason why people slip into or cannot exit poverty. Furthermore, some diseases have no treatment options available because of the perceived lack of financial incentives for developing treatments. Despite significant progress made in the last two decades, approximately one third of the world’s poorest still lack regular access to medicine. These challenges are expected to grow, particularly in light of the growing burden of non-communicable diseases. Access to medicine makes economic sense for developing countries, who seek to build strong economies for their future based on a workforce ready, willing and able to work.
The Access to Medicine Foundation is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving access to medicine to societies in need. Based in Haarlem, The Netherlands, the foundation publishes the Access to Medicine Index, the first index of its kind to rank pharmaceutical companies with respect to their efforts to enhance global access to medicines.
The Access to Medicine Index aims to help companies play their part in addressing the challenge of access and to offer them insight into the activities of their peers. By helping them to better understand their role, improve their approach and drive more value out of their access/related investments, the Index seeks to create value for pharmaceutical companies in addition to improving access to medicine for developing world populations. With the Access to Medicine Index we hope to facilitate the propagation of advanced policy solutions, improved cooperation between stakeholders, increased public and private awareness, and leading equity and debt investment decision making for the investment community.
The Access to Medicine Index is an independent initiative that ranks the world's 20 largest companies according to their efforts to make their products more available, affordable and accessible in developing countries, highlighting policy and practice that either facilitates or hinders access to medicine. In its most basic form, the Access to Medicine Index is an innovative tool designed to encourage pharmaceutical companies to work towards improving access to medicines by comparing their efforts and by presenting the outcomes to the outside world.
The aim of the Access to Medicine Index is to stimulate positive change by publicly encouraging pharmaceutical companies to step up their efforts as part of the global health community's endeavours to improve access to medicine worldwide. The Index strives to provide companies with a transparent means by which pharmaceutical companies assess, monitor and improve their own performance and their public and investment profiles while building a platform on which all stakeholders can share best practices in the area of global access to medicine.
The Access to Medicine Index uses a weighted analytical framework to capture and compare company data across 33 diseases and 103 countries. The framework is constructed along seven areas of focus referred to as Technical Areas, which cover the range of company business activities that experts consider most relevant to access to medicine. Within each Technical Area, the Index assesses four aspects of company action: commitment, transparency, performance and innovation.