The obstacles faced by the world’s poorest populations in gaining access to lifesaving vaccines, drugs, and other medical technologies are complicated and multifaceted. Intellectual property, trade, and competition laws are valuable tools for creating incentives and distribution channels, but in some cases they can also create barriers to access. One particularly thorny problem relates to circumstances under which affluent and deeply impoverished populations co-exist within a single country. Under these circumstances, drug companies may worry that public-health efforts aimed at providing low-cost drugs to poor populations may corrode profitable sales of drugs to affluent patients in the same country. We are currently in the process of exploring the relative merits of various possible ways in which such hurdles might be overcome.

Our work:

June 2016: GAiA and the Harvard Global Health Institute hosted a workshop entitled “Insights into Action.” At the workshop, GAiA led facilitated conversations focusing primarily on strategies that could be adopted in the near term by industry, nonprofits, and governments that would have the effect of increasing access to lifesaving medicines and increasing incentives to invest in research and development into disease categories that primarily affect the global poor. The workshop brought together more than sixty leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, foundations, civil society, academia, and government to develop actionable solutions for increasing access to medicines and promoting innovation to help the world’s poor. This workshop report summarizes the principal arguments and suggestions advanced by the attendees. (The names and affiliations of the participants appear in Appendix B.)

Spring 2016: GAiA released its draft green paper entitled “Expanding Access to Medicines and Promoting Innovation: A Practical Approach.” The paper explored intra-country differential pricing, humanitarian licensing, and improved research collaboration as strategies worthy of consideration for scale-up and replication. The paper also featured a comprehensive analysis of different market types in order to ensure that solutions can be properly and effectively tailored to a wide variety of contexts.

August 2014: We held the first of a series of workshops exploring possible ways of improving the existing systems for creating and distributing pharmaceutical products aimed at the diseases common in poor countries. GAiA hosted a workshop on access to medicines, focused primarily on the possibility that intra-country differential pricing could be employed under some circumstances as one of several strategies for advancing that goal, but which also considered some alternative ways of increasing access to medicine among the impoverished populations of developing countries. Forty-five stakeholders from the pharmaceutical industry, government, international procurement and donor agencies, civil society, and academia gathered to address these issues.  This workshop report summarizes the principal arguments and suggestions advanced by the attendees.  (The names and affiliations of the participants appear in Appendix B.)