Pharmaceutical companies continue to refine their approaches for increasing access to medicine. Yet poor compliance risks undermining these investments.

Governance & Compliance


Governance and compliance are two pillars of corporate management. They enable companies to achieve strategic goals in an efficient, ethical and transparent manner. Failure of these systems, however, can lead to corruption. Its consequences can include the diversion of public funds away from essential healthcare, or the over- or wrongful prescription and use of medicines.

Integrating governance and compliance systems can minimise the risk of failure. For the first time, the 2016 Access to Medicine Index reports jointly on General Access to Medicine Management (governance) and Market Influence & Compliance (compliance). The aim is to highlight where access to medicine can benefit from a closer integration of these areas of policy and management.

In this analysis, governance refers to: ensuring oversight, enabling accountability and engaging with stakeholders – specifically in relation to access-to-medicine activities. Compliance refers to: ensuring processes, operations and practices meet standards, codes, regulations and laws – particularly where they relate to access to medicine.

Main Findings

Almost all companies (17) now have a detailed access-to-medicine strategy. Leaders are aligning them with their corporate strategies.
Pharmaceutical companies are expanding into markets in low- and middle-income countries. The Index finds that leaders increasingly view access to medicine as a way of developing their businesses in these markets. Possibly as a result, their access-to-medicine strategies now frequently support corporate objectives (e.g., to enter specific markets, or to reach low-income populations). This is demonstrated by the use of inclusive business models in low- and middle-income countries: models that view low- and middle-income populations segments as target markets.

Companies are refining the ways they organise and coordinate efforts to increase access to medicine.
Companies are setting clear access-related goals linked to international health targets, such as those included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve these goals, more companies are using performance management systems with access-linked targets and performance-linked incentives. Stakeholder engagement to increase access to medicine is now commonplace and generally well organised, with some companies using secondment and volunteering programmes to help foster innovation.

Companies have comprehensive compliance systems, yet misconduct continues.
Companies have comprehensive compliance systems for ensuring employees meet agreed standards of behaviour. Some companies are adopting innovative compliance-management policies and practices, such as revolving-door policies to mitigate risks related to conflicts of interest. Yet, most companies continue to breach laws or codes relating to corruption and unethical marketing. Companies may be at greater risk of non-compliance in low- and middle-income countries, where regulatory systems are likely to be weaker. This underscores the need for strong enforcement of compliance systems for companies operating in these jurisdictions.

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