Access to essential medicines

| December 30, 2016

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In recent years, the introduction of new medicines and treatments has exponentially increased the ability to handle and treat major diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 1975 and 2000, the world consumption of pharmaceutical products increased drastically from US$ 70 billion to US$ 317 billion, with a consumption of medicines per capita growing from US$ 17 to US$ 53. Regardless of the increase in world consumption, more than 80% of all pharmaceutical products are consumed by 15% of the world population located in developed countries. A recent study from the Lancet Commission estimated that currently between US$77.4 and $151.9 billion per year (or $13 to $25 per capita per year) is needed to provide a basic package of 201 essential medicines for all low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, in 2010, the majority of low-income countries (LICs) and 13 out of 47 middle-income countries (one in five countries worldwide), spent less than $13 per capita on pharmaceuticals, with LICs spending an average of US$8.6 per person annually. The majority of this funding comes from individuals and households with limited means. This confirms that many people worldwide do not have access to even a limited basket of essential medicines, yet, simultaneously, the world as a whole spends at least 8 times this amount on medicines. There are massive inequities and inefficiencies in financing and governance, linked to an unequal distribution of pharmaceutical consumption across the world. Currently, it is estimated that one-third of the world’s people (up to 50% in some regions of Asia and Africa) are unable to receive or purchase essential medicines on a regular basis. Accordingly, more than two billion people in LMICs lack adequate access to essential medicines. The problem is complex and the reasons for this range from high costs to inadequate distribution, with differing views of stakeholder responsibilities to solve it.

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IFPMA

IFPMA represents the research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe. The research-based pharmaceutical industry’s 2 million employees research, develop and provide medicines and vaccines that improve the life of patients worldwide. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community find solutions that improve global health.

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