In 2016 moderate progress is visible in the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to improve access to medicine. GSK leads for the fifth time, ahead of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Merck KGaA.
Leaders see business rationale in access
GSK leads for the fifth time ahead of Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Merck KGaA. Critically, these companies show needs-orientation, matching actions to externally identified priorities in the access agenda. For example, they invest in R&D for urgently needed products, even where commercial incentives are lacking. Their access strategies support commercial objectives, with clear business rationales.
Lower ranked companies have each improved in at least one measure, and withstood closer scrutiny: the 2016 Index used tougher measures than in 2014. Change by these companies has been incremental. Exceptions are Takeda, which launched a new access strategy and rose from 20th place, and Bayer, which lost ground as others improved.
In the top ten
Following the first four, the remaining companies in the top ten each show strength in at least one area, yet have room to deepen engagement in access to medicine. There have been two significant shifts in this group. Novo Nordisk falls to 10th place. Its solid access frame- work applies to few products (albeit those considered key for access). AstraZeneca joins the top ten, with an expanded access strategy and notable pricing practices.
Lagging furthest behind are Roche** and Astellas. Roche is less transparent than its peers, yet it advances in other measures, with new access initiatives and strong processes for ensuring compliance. While Astellas shows some improvements, such as a new pledge not to enforce IP rights in certain poor countries, these were not sufficient to avoid being overtaken.
This is a relatively high-scoring area. The top five companies are close to matching stakeholders’ expectations: five companies now score more than four points, with the clear leader close to achieving the full five. Scores fall gradually toward the lower end of the ranking: the higher-ranked companies take increasingly refined approaches to improving access to medicine.
Scores remain generally low, but there has been considerable movement between companies. Companies’ systems for ensuring compliance with codes of conduct, laws and regulations continue to fail, even when they are comprehensive and supported by detailed enforcement processes. Only four companies were not found during the period of analysis to have been the subject of settlements related to corruption or unethical marketing. All settlements found by the Index in a country in scope took place in China.
The pack is evenly divided into four groups of five companies, with clear gaps between each group and the next. Leaders generally engage in R&D to fill high-priority gaps. Conversely, laggards have smaller pipelines and do not specifically address the R&D needs of people in poor countries. The gap between the top ten and the bottom ten has widened in 2016.
The scores in this area are getting closer, with one company leading by a clear margin. Nevertheless, there are approximately four densely clustered groups, separated by performances in equitable pricing, filing for registration and brochure and packaging adaptations. More companies are engaging in equitable pricing, and for more products, than in 2014.
The companies divide into four groups. There are three clear leaders, with very close scores for the leading pair. These are followed by six above-average performers. Across all 20 companies, the wide spread of scores reflects companies’ diverse approaches to responsible IP-management, as well as the varying quality and transparency of these approaches.
The scores are spread widely, with the pack divided into four groups: six leaders (including two distinct frontrunners), closely followed by a pair of good performers, a closely-ranked middle group of eight and four laggards. This reflects the diversity of company performances: both in the breadth of activities per company and how they target local needs.
The scores are spread widely, with three groups: seven leaders, followed by a middle group of seven and then six laggards. Companies on higher rankings tend to engage in more structured donation programmes, of a broader scale and scope. They take on a greater level of responsibility with regard to the monitoring and auditing of donation programmes.
**Roche declined to provide data to the 2016 Access to Medicine Index. It referred to the fact that oncology, which is not in the Index scope, is its main focus for improving access to medicine. Roche has been included in the Index as it can also improve access in areas in scope where it has products and expertise. Publically available data, along with information from past submissions, were used to assess its performance.
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