The Netherlands based Access to Medicine Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization has published its ratings differentiating how the world's largest drug manufacturers
stand in comparison to each other, based on
their efforts to provide people in low-income countries better access to affordable drugs and vaccines.
Carried out in consultation with 12 large investors, who control assets worth about US$ 1.2 trillion, the report draws a distinction between the major pharmaceutical companies who are making "solid strides," such as in developing medicines of diseases neglected till now and those that they lead.Possible Uses of the Index
The index is supposed to offer investors and other stakeholders (viz. governments, academics, nongovernmental organizations and the general public ) a tool, which can help them to consider a company's social responsibility, before associating with them. The investors may be helped in particular to assess the long-term value of pharmaceutical companies
. Further the index would also serve to provide an independent, impartial and reliable information on individual pharmaceutical companies’ efforts to improve global access to medicines.
Moreover, the pharmaceutical companies themselves would be able to assess, monitor and improve their own performance and their public and investment profiles.
Finally, it would also provide a platform wherein all stakeholders can regularly discuss best practices and learning in the field of access to medicines
worldwide.The Indicators Used
The Access to Medicine Index rates companies of 28 different indicators were classified into eight main headings, namely, Access to Medicines Management, Public policy influence & Lobbying, Research & Development that reflects both the global disease burden and neglected diseases, Patents & Licensing, Drug manufacturing, Distribution and Capability advancement, Equitable pricing, Drug donations and Philanthropic Activities.The Methodology Adopted
The complex methodology was developed in consultation with representatives from governments, research, NGOs and drug companies themselves. A review of the process is supposed to be carried out under the guidance of an Index Executive Committee on a yearly basis.The Results
Following are the results of the first ever Access to Medicine Index. The chart features Access to Medicine Index with ranking for each of companies, based on a best in class approach. (Where 1= lowest overall score and 5 = highest overall score). The colors signify the relative share of each of the eight main assessment criteria.
The World Health Organization estimates that by simply enhancing access to pharmaceutical drugs can result in saving about 10 million lives each year. However, it has to be a concerted effort by Governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
Many diseases are treatable such as tuberculosis with anti infective medicines
, HIV/Aids with HIV drugs
In addition, a range of generic drugs have helped the poor overtime. Generic drug products include several types of medications such as musculoskeletal system drugs e.g. chlorzoxazone
, pain relief drugs e.g. buprenorphine,
respiratory drugs e.g. aminophylline
, surgical drugs e.g. vecuronium
, genitourinary drugs e.g. tamsulosin
, gastrointestinal drugs e.g. famotidine
, endocrine disorder drugs e.g. prednisolone
, skin medicines e.g. clobetasol propionate
, central nervous system drugs e.g. fluoxetine
, cardiovascular drugs e.g. atorvastatin
However, billions still can't afford these drugs and vaccines and that they may not be able to do so without the contribution of pharmaceutical companies. The study by itself is insightful and should help to augment the reach of essential medicines to those who need them but can't afford them.