Companies increasingly view access to medicine as a way to develop their business in emerging markets
Governance & Compliance
Companies are refining the ways they organise efforts to increase access to medicine. Most (17) now have a detailed access-to-medicine strategy. AbbVie, Astellas and Daiichi Sankyo are the exceptions. While they have approaches for increasing access to medicine, they have not set out an overarching access strategy.
Many (12) companies also view access as a way to develop their business in emerging markets. These companies identify where access strategies support the bottom line: for example, by supporting entrance into new markets, by expanding their consumer base, or by anticipating long-term financial gains. Where access strategies have a clear business rationale, companies have a greater incentive to deliver on and expand them, increasing their potential sustainability.
Some companies (5) are piloting or expanding inclusive business models, where independently identified public health needs are prioritised and where target markets also include low-income population segments. Novartis, for example, has a global strategy for reaching all socio-economic population segments, using scalable and replicable access models.
Half of the companies in the Index have set clear access-related goals linked to international health targets, such as those included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve their goals, all companies use performance management systems where bonuses and other incentives are linked to meeting access targets. Stakeholder engagement to increase access to medicine is now commonplace and generally well organised.
Where the Index measures management and compliance, companies perform best when it comes to setting detailed access-to-medicine strategies. Low scores in compliance take account of unethical behaviour. Such misconduct can limit access to medicine, putting companies’ investments in access to medicine at risk.
Misconduct puts access plans at risk
Compliance with standards of conduct has an impact on access to medicine. For the first time, the 2016 Index analysed companies’ compliance performances alongside their systems and strategies for improving access to medicine. The aim is to highlight where closer integration of these areas of policy and management would benefit access to medicine.
Companies have comprehensive compliance systems aimed at ensuring employees meet agreed standards of behaviour. Two companies are adopting innovative compliance-management policies and practices: GSK has recently introduced an employment policy to mitigate risks related to conflicts of interest that could arise when it hires staff from the public sector, and Gilead provides specific compliance training to third parties, such as sales agents and distributors.
However, the Index has found evidence that breaches of laws or codes relating to corruption, unethical marketing and anti-competitive behaviour continue to arise. Misconduct following weak enforcement of compliance systems can limit access to medicine and put companies’ reputations and investments in access to medicine at risk. In many low- and middle-income countries, regulatory systems are weaker. Nevertheless, companies are expected to conduct all their business in a responsible, ethical manner.