On 28th April, the Hoffmann Institute and SDG Tent brought together a panel of speakers to discuss access to medicines in emerging markets; how executives and investors can help, and the progress so far in ensuring access to health products for under-served populations worldwide.
Convening a group of experts and senior executives to explore access to medicines in emerging markets, the Hoffmann Institute and SDG Tent organised an online session. Also supporting the conversation were DSM, Salesforce, P&G, Yara and InTent. Opening the session, INSEAD Professor Prashant Yadav spoke about how the pandemic has been a stark reminder of the importance to “ensure that people around the world have access to essential medicines and health technologies.” He went on to explain how the inequity of this can leave a large global population at a severe disadvantage.
Providing an example of this inequity, Jayasree Iyer, Executive Director of the Access to Medicine Foundation, reminded us that two billion people globally still lack access to essential medicines, and 80% of the world’s population lives in low and middle-income countries. Explaining why this is a concern, she claimed, “The low and middle countries around the world end up shouldering the bulk of the disease burden. For non-communicable diseases like diabetes, the low and middle-income countries account for over 70% of the disease burden. For communicable diseases, it goes to 90% and above. “
Reflecting on the progress made to change this, she mentioned that while there are improvements and companies step forward to get involved, “the pace of change is really slow,” especially since only a few companies lead a large part of this effort.
Highlighting how more organisations and pharmaceutical companies can help this movement, André Hoffmann, the Co-Founder of InTent and Vice-Chairman of Roche, claimed that CEOs in developed countries should not only be concerned about their immediate markets (regardless of communicable and incommunicable diseases), but also about the developing parts of the world. He mentioned this is especially important when it comes to infectious diseases, because ignoring them now would mean having to deal with a greater problem later on. “The pandemic gives us a clear indication of what could go wrong if we don’t treat this as a global disease.”
In addition to having corporations and more businesses on board, Karianne Bail-Lancee, the Director of Sustainable and Impact Investing at UBS Asset Management, shared the importance of investors also being involved. She spoke about their goal of creating long-term value, while also including ESG factors and setting both qualitative and quantitative goals in various aspects of the organisation. Elaborating this further, she said, “In terms of measurable performance, and how companies do on this topic, we as investors really value the access to medicine index, because the index provides us with detailed information and how the top 20 leading pharmaceutical companies take action to improve access to medicine.”
Speaking more on accessibility itself, Professor Yadav highlighted that ensuring accessibility to emerging markets should not compromise the quality of medicines, and should cover various components of stock availability, affordability, and geographical access. Stressing the importance of a collaborative effort, he shared that involvement from businesses, academia, governments and financers is needed to deliver on this.
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