Access to Medicine Index finds pharma at a crossroads

Nov. 16, 2022

While the 2022 Access to Medicine Index finds that the pandemic pushed more pharma companies to make products more widely accessible in low- and middle-income countries, the industry is now at an important juncture, where lessons learned can prove pivotal in finding solutions to bridge long-standing gaps.

Published every two years by the nonprofit group, Access to Medicine Foundation, the index analyzes 20 of the largest research-based pharma companies with products for high-burden diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). It ranks these companies on their efforts to improve access to medicine, identifies best practices, highlights where progress is being made and uncovers where critical action is still required. 

This year — for the first time — all 20 companies in scope report an access-to-medicine strategy. Six companies – Astellas, Boehringer Ingelheim, J&J, Merck, Novartis and Takeda — have access plans in place for all of their late-stage R&D projects.

GSK retains the top spot in the overall rankings, followed by J&J, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Merck KGaA, in that order.

It wasn't all good news though — the index found stagnation in key areas. The pipeline for R&D projects covering emerging infectious disease (excluding COVID-19 and other coronaviruses) has remained mainly empty. Only five of the 20 companies in scope are active in this area. According to the analysis of the index, "Areas of stagnation are holding the industry back from making wholesale progress on ensuring equitable access to medicine for people living in LMICs."