GSK, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have topped the latest Medicines Access Index, which ranks the 20 largest pharmaceutical companies for their efforts to improve access to medicines worldwide.
It is the eighth consecutive time that GSK has ranked first on the list, thanks to a strategy of improving access to medicines that applies to both research and development and product delivery to market.
The 2022 Index found that more companies are engaging with access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. For 77 percent of projects nearing the end of the R&D pipeline, companies now have a plan to enhance access after product launch, compared to just 40 percent in the 2021 index.
Source: Access for Medicines Foundation
Three other companies in the top 20 now have at least one voluntary licensing agreement, which allows patented products to be made available for general manufacturing.
The index has been published every two years since 2008 by Access to Medicine, a non-profit organization based in the Netherlands and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and Axa Investment Managers as well as the Dutch and United Kingdom Foreign Ministries.
Assess access gaps
Ashling Mulvaney, Vice President of Sustainability and Healthcare Access at AstraZeneca, explains why the list is so important: “The Medicine Access Index is the longest-running independent assessment of the pharmaceutical industry’s actions to improve access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries. It ranks companies, tracks progress, It identifies best practices, and shows where action is most urgently needed to improve access to medicines for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.”
Mulvaney adds: “We appreciate the insights and guidance provided by the Access to Medicine Foundation as part of this indicator. Their insights align with one of our core values of “Patients First”. “
AstraZeneca performed well in all three areas the index ranked, particularly in its approach to patent transparency, as it shares the largest number of intellectual property assets with third-party researchers.
A targeted strategy to improve access to medicines
Among the 20 companies ranked, AstraZeneca was the leader in terms of product delivery, by implementing targeted outreach strategies to countries with different incomes.
Mulvaney comments: “Access to healthcare is a key sustainability pillar of our corporate strategy. Of particular note is that we have been recognized as a leader in the delivery category. In this category we have been commended for implementing access strategies tailored to different countries that reflect specific income ratings “We were also recognized for our approach to patent transparency and sharing of intellectual property assets, using technology transfers, which helps ensure a continued supply of medicines in low- and middle-income countries.”
The index also pointed to AstraZeneca’s piloting of existing and expanded comprehensive business models to improve supply chain capacity. Mulvaney adds, “The index recognized AstraZeneca’s local capacity building initiatives and use of inclusive business models, aimed at meeting the access needs of residents at the base of the income pyramid.”
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