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GSK emerges top of the pile for improving access to medicine

Published on 14/11/16 at 09:08am

GlaxoSmithKline, the British drugmaker, has topped the overall ranking of the Access to Medicine Index, which ranks 20 top pharmaceutical companies by the availability of the firm’s drug portfolio. It is the fifth time that GSK have been ranked in the lead position in the Index, they also topped the list for considering affordability when setting prices.

The non-profit Access to Medicine Foundation is dedicated to improving access to medicine in the poorer areas of the world and found, in their latest report, that “moderate progress” had been made by the companies studied to improve access. The five leaders, as found by the report, were GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Merck KGaA and MSD.

The report is quoted as identifying that: “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, when where commercial incentives are lacking. Their access strategies support commercial objectives, with clear business rationales.”

Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, commented on the good news for GSK by stating: “The fundamental changes we have made to our business model enable us to make our products as available and affordable as possible while generating the returns we need to sustain our business and invest in research. But we cannot stand still. Increasing access is a complex and ongoing challenge, which is reflected in this year’s Index being more demanding than ever. As a business, and an industry, we must push ourselves to go further and faster in strengthening access to healthcare. This is a challenge that we are ready and willing to take on.”

Despite the positive news for general improvement, across the board, in market access, there were still reservations regarding pricing. The report found that only 5% of products are covered by strategies put in place to ensure their affordability to different population groups within countries. The tone of the report suggests there is still more to be done overall, mirroring Andrew Witty's comments that this is an ongoing challenge.

Ben Hargreaves

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