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News Article

Treatment Access: Priority in Mexico

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 02/22/2021 - 19:49

The Access to Medicine Foundation (AMF) released a report that portrays efforts from pharmaceutical companies to widen access to innovative therapies. The index shows that, generally, Mexico is among the list of favored countries when propelling initiatives for medicine access. 

AMF’s report states that its goal is to identify needs an determine the actions to improve medicine access in low- and middle-income countries by “supporting efforts to build local capacity, pairing R&D projects with clear access plans and resetting the industry’s research priorities so companies also address the specific needs of people living on low incomes.”

According to the results from the index, these are the Top 5 companies that have increased medicine access in 2021.

 

 

 

These companies are also the ones focusing their R&D efforts on battling what WHO considers to be “global health priorities,” which center around health emergencies: women, children and adolescent’s health and development and the health impacts of environmental change. Moreover, they are also working on addressing the needs of low- and middle-income countries.

The results from the study show that while there are many improvements in growing access to medicine including governance structure, R&D processes and monitoring efforts, there is still a large gap to guarantee that specific products reach all countries. AMF says that Brazil, China, India and Mexico are the top countries with strategic planning for product penetration. However, voluntary licensing of patents remains very limited for certain diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. In terms of R&D, generally, companies are concentrating their efforts on two large issues: cancer and COVID-19. The pandemic stole the spotlight from mainly neglected tropical diseases, with a reduction in R&D budget of 86-90 percent. Despite this, results shows the global commitment from the industry to battle the pandemic.

Product registration is used as an indicator to measure advances in medicine access. Among upper-middle income countries (UMICs), Mexico is in the Top 5 five for medicine registration filings. Neglected tropical diseases and maternal and neonatal health conditions are above the average in terms of product registration, followed by non-communicable diseases. Furthermore, Mexico is among the Top 3 UMICs where access strategies are promoted the most. The index shows that for instance, “regarding treatment for hypertensive heart disease, the reach ranges from under 1,000 patients in a low- to middle-income country to approximately 70,000 patients in a UMIC.”

Going beyond treatment access, some countries propose health system approaches to strengthen the impact of their therapies. Mexico is among the Top 10 countries generally covered by an initiative of this type. These are generally encouraged to combat non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Companies like Novartis, with its migraine treatment, and Pfizer, with its self-administered cancer treatments, have been focusing on ensuring equitable access strategies to promote well-being in Mexico. 

Novartis

Pfizer

In Mexico, to treat migraine, Novartis has launched an emerging market brand for erenumab (Aimovig). The goal is to increase affordability and access in the public sector and ensure affordability for individuals who pay for this medicine themselves. For the latter segment, the company has a patient support program (PSP) based on data from an INEGI survey of national income and expenses and on market research on ability and willingness to pay. This allows Novartis to set accurate benchmarks to differentiate prices.

 In Mexico, Pfizer has addressed affordability challenges in both public and private sectors for palbociclib (Ibrance). The company provides the medicine to all patients treated in public institutions at the same price. For patients with private health insurance, Pfizer offers tiered discounts according to their insurer’s coverage. For patients who pay out of pocket, Pfizer makes the medicine available at the same price as in public institutions. Patients can also be referred from hospital patient associations and can receive free products with the purchase of a certain number of paid packs based on their socioeconomic status.

 

AMF’s report analyzes 20 companies and the impact of their product launches between 2018 and 2020 in UMICs and low-income countries. The foundation concludes that there has been a significant advance in medicine access, specially within governmental structures, and R&D in UMICs. However, AMF recommends to replicate these strategies and initiatives in low-income countries and to strengthen follow-up efforts.

 

Photo by:   Kendal on Unsplash
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst