Access to Medicines Limited in Low-Income Nations, Report Shows

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Doctor testing a child for malaria – Photo credit: Reuters

A new report has found that progress made in improving access to medicines in the developing world is restricted to middle-income nations, as low-income countries are left behind.

The report, published by the non-profit Access to Medicine Foundation every two years, found that companies are employing strategies including voluntary licensing and building manufacturing capacity to improve access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries, still, these advances have limited depth and breadth.

Even while there has been progress, there are still certain critical gaps that need to be filled in the upcoming years, according to Access to Medicine Foundation CEO, Jayasree Iyer.

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The results confirm a well-known pattern, she added, according to which the pharmaceutical business prioritises nations with favourable market.

According to Iyer, businesses must make sure their goods are registered in low-income nations as well as send messages to governments that they must invest in strengthening their healthcare systems and create strategies for getting the pharmaceuticals into patients.

“If we consistently see that the industry leaves low income countries behind, then we’re never going to solve the problem of access at scale,” she said.

The report showed that British pharmaceutical company GSK (GSK.L) maintained its top place in the Access to Medicine Index overall rankings, followed closely by Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the largest pharmaceutical company in the United States (JNJ.N).

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AstraZeneca (AZN.L), an Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company, rose from seventh to third place thanks to a number of voluntary licenses granted for its COVID-19 vaccine.

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