Are Pharma Giants Living Up to Big Promises on Development?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

he pharmaceutical industry plays a fundamental role in achieving international development targets. This was recognised in the millennium development goals (MDGs), which explicitly mention that providing access to affordable essential drugs in low- and middle-income countries has to be achieved “in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies”. Yet efforts to track progress towards the MDGs have focused mainly on government action rather than corporate contributions.

The Access to Medicine Foundation has stepped into this gap. Since 2008, it has tracked the commitments and actions of pharmaceutical companies to improve access to medicine in low- and middle-income countries. It measures 20 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies on their policies and practices for increasing access to medicine.

The Foundation’s latest report maps how the pharma companies it tracks are responding to global calls for action on MDG5, which sets targets for reducing deaths during pregnancy and childbirth and for increasing access to contraception and safe abortion.

The report clarifies what society can expect from pharmaceutical companies in this area. There is broad consensus that the industry’s main contribution should be related to research and development. Large pharmaceutical companies have the knowledge and technical expertise needed to develop and adapt products to meet the needs of women and girls living in low- and middle-income countries.

Pharmaceutical companies can also make a significant contribution to MDG5 by addressing the affordability of key products, particularly contraceptives, and by helping to build local capacities, for example by training birth attendants, or supporting local supply and demand forecasting.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

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