Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pharma and Philanthropy

By Randy Hendrickson

How do the major pharmaceutical companies compare in providing drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines to people in lower income countries? A new index (Access to Medicine Index) rates pharmaceutical companies in terms of how well they provide aid and outreach to poor, undeveloped countries with third world diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria. The 2008 Outcome Index ratings are based on data in 8 areas, including management, influence, R&D, patenting, capacity, pricing, donations, and philanthropy. The index examines issues such as:

How cheaply products are sold to third world countries;
Which drugs or vaccines are sent to which countries;
Whether generic versions of patented drugs are used;
How much is actually donated; and
What research is done in the areas of third world diseases.

The Access to Medicine Foundation, based in Haarlem, The Netherlands, “aims to advance access to health care (in the widest sense of the word) in developing countries and, in particular, to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to accept a bigger role regarding access to medicine in pre-industrialized countries.” Their motto is “Engaging Industry Through Transparency”.

The top 5 industry leaders that were identified by Access to Medicine Index are:

1. GlaxoSmithKline (UK)
2. Novo Nordisk (Denmark)
3. Merck & Co. (NJ, USA)
4. Novartis (Switzerland)
5. Sanofi-Aventis (France)

The pharmaceutical companies have been permitted to verify the data in the index, and the methodology and data analysis has been reviewed by an independent panel of experts.

For a complete listing and data breakdown, see The 2008 Index Outcomes at:

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