European pharma companies lead in increasing access to medicines in
14 July 2010
European pharmaceutical companies outcompete their US
counterparts in making medicines available to people in developing
countries, but their lead is shrinking, according to the second Access
to Medicine Index compiled by the Netherlands based Access to Medicine
Compared to 2008, when the first Index was published, pharma
companies have given more insight into their policies and actions to
increase people's access to medicines in developing countries,
researchers say in a report underpinning the ranking. They identify
more industry initiatives than two years ago, but also see room for
"The Access to Medicine Index independently assesses how
individual pharmaceutical companies perform in promoting universal
access to essential medicines, and is thus an important tool in
improving performance," said Dr Carissa Etienne, Assistant
Director-General at the World Health Organization (WHO).
"The 2010 ranking reveals important progress, if only because
companies have shown far greater willingness to open up. The Index
unveils great improvements, especially in the areas of research and
development, and equitable pricing. At the same time, it shows that
the industry as a whole still has a long way to go," said Wim
Leereveld, the Index's founder.
The Access to Medicine Index ranks 20 of the world's largest
pharmaceutical companies on their efforts to make sure that
medicines are made for, and reach, people in developing countries.
The Index encourages drug companies to compete and offers investors
and others a way to compare their social responsibility records.
The Access to Medicine Index 2010 identifies GlaxoSmithKline (UK)
as current industry leader in improving access to needed medicines.
Following in its footsteps are Merck & Co. (US), Novartis
(Switzerland), Gilead Sciences (US), and Sanofi-Aventis (France).
Gilead Sciences (US) and Pfizer (US) moved up strongly in the
ranking; Bayer (Germany), Bristol-Myers Squibb (US), Merck KGaA
(Germany) and Novo Nordisk (Denmark) were down.
In the Index 2010, six of the ten highest-ranking originator
companies are based in Europe, while four are US-based. Two years
ago, seven European companies got a top-10 ranking.
Also, generic drug makers, who do less research but produce
low-cost off-patent drugs, now have a separate ranking. Ranbaxy
Laboratories (India) and Cipla (India) top that list.
The Access to Medicine Index was created by the Access to
Medicine Foundation, a Netherlands-based non-profit, and was
researched by RiskMetrics ESG Analytics, part of MSCI Inc., a global
provider of investment decision support tools.
For more information on the Access to Medicine Index see: