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Pharmaceutical giants can do more work

Continuing Testimony of Big Pharma: The use of pharmaceutical companies for the poorest people in the world has increased compared to the previous years. But the industry is focusing on too many diseases.

This is the conclusion of the Access to Medicine index, which is being published every two years and examines the work of 20 of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. The index, which announces the Dutch foundations, inter alia explores how companies are devoted to medical care in developing countries and what products develop and deliver.

The focus is too narrow

The authors are concerned that the engagement of the industry focuses on only five diseases. Half of all activities are focused on the fight against malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and infections caused by insects, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis. These five diseases are at the heart of global health initiatives, including funding, commendation of the index.

Inclusion of the industry certainly has the effect: Tuberculosis and HIV were ranked sixth in the World Health Organization (WHO) 2000 list and seven of the 10 leading causes of death in 2000. Tuberculosis has fallen to tenth place in 2016, and HIV is no longer on the list. However, development can not hide the fact that in countries with low incomes this disease is still among the leading causes of death, according to World Health Organization Surveys for 2016.

The problem is that only five companies are developing 63 percent of the research projects.

The list of diseases that need urgent drug development, according to access to medicine, goes far beyond the five diseases that are the focus of pharmaceutical companies, warns Danny Edwards, lead researcher of the index. The World Health Organization identified a total of 45 diseases, which should also be a high priority for research and development.

Furthermore, from the point of view of the head of the index, it is problematic that only five companies develop 63 percent of the priority projects for low-income patients: GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis and Sanofi. "The fact that several companies carry most high-priority research and development shows how fragile a situation is. Withdrawal from only one of these companies would have a significant impact," says Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director of Access to Medicine Foundation. This observation refers to a very early research, ie the segment where the new drugs are based.

Edwards sees pricing progress. For example, Astra-Zeneca has initiated an exemplary model of pricing for high blood pressure medicines in Brazil from the point of view of medical access experts, taking into account the financial strength of certain parts of the population. Producers of the benchmark index, among others, adopt an approach demonstrating successful examples of how to improve care for needs.

More transparency

In addition, they point out that companies are getting more and more insights into which patents are in which countries: in 2016, only four of the top 20 companies allowed it, and now they are 17. If the pharmaceutical companies are clear about where their patents apply, will the purchasers, whether they can introduce the cheapest generic medicines or not.

With Roche and Novartis, two major Swiss companies are represented in the index. Novartis has climbed to second place, and Roche is tenth to nine. About a year ago, Novartis announced its intention to expand its own access program. Novartis Social Business headquartered in Sandoz is fully responsible for seven national companies since 2018. In Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Nepal, Laos and Cambodia, all business is carried out through Novartis Social Business with a view to developing new pricing models.

One of the reasons for Roche's big jump is that, given this issue, the index also took into account the use of cancer companies where Roche's medical focus lies. (Tages-Anzeiger)

Created on: 20.11.2018, 23:57 hours

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