On 5 September 2018, the Access to Medicine Foundation convened executives from the pharmaceutical industry in India and globally, for a day-long meeting in Mumbai, India, to discuss access to medicine and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Events such as these form an important part of the Foundation’s strategy for engaging pharmaceutical companies in improving access to medicine.
“One way that we drive change is by interacting with industry executives and sharing our research and insights with them. Companies can use our research to further their commitments to improving access to medicine and addressing AMR.” says Jayasree K. Iyer, Executive Director for the Access to Medicine Foundation. “Convening this meeting provided industry experts an opportunity to share important insights into how companies view the challenges faced in balancing access with responsible prescribing.”
India has the third largest pharmaceutical industry in the world, with an annual turnover of over USD 20 billion. The Indian pharmaceutical market is projected to be worth USD 100 billion in revenue by 2025. Many of the world’s major producers, especially of generic medicines, are located in India or have operations there. The strategies adopted by these companies will have a significant impact on access to medicine and AMR globally. India faces the twin burden of limited access to essential medicines and excessive use of antibiotics.
The meeting was held under the Chatham House Rule, with the following themes being discussed:
- The role of the pharmaceutical industry in addressing the access challenge
- New approaches to spur anti-infective R&D
- Manufacturing responsibly to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance
- Key access issues in India today.
There was broad consensus on several points, including:
The government has a central role to play in addressing the access challenge but pharmaceutical companies also have a responsibility to get involved. Industry experts agreed that the issue of access to medicine in India has evolved to one of creating the right system for all responsible stakeholders to work together to improve access.
Adapting existing medicines for new populations or indications is an important part of pharmaceutical R&D. As more antibiotics lose their effectiveness, there is an opportunity for companies to do more to adapt existing antibiotics, an area that is currently being neglected. This could involve taking an existing antibiotic that has fallen out of use, but not developed resistance, and making it safer, before bringing it back to the market.
There was general consensus that new commercial models should incentivise research and development, rather than bulk sales.
In November, the Foundation will launch the sixth Access to Medicine Index – an analysis of how 20 of the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical companies make medicines, vaccines and diagnostics more accessible in low- and middle-income countries.