News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

GSK, Pfizer, Sanofi, Janssen and Novartis in top 5 companies driving medicines access

Health Industry Hub | January 29, 2021 |

Pharma News: Strategic action from Pharma companies is imperative for improving global access to life-saving medicines, vaccines and diagnostics.

The 2021 Access to Medicine Index provides a finely detailed picture of how 20 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies take action to address access to medicine. The Index reports on these companies’ access-related policies and practices based on an analysis of 33 indicators, concerning 106 low- and middle-income countries and 82 diseases, conditions and pathogens.


GSK retains the No. 1 position, yet only slightly ahead of Novartis. The leaders are followed by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen, Pfizer and Sanofi. The two leading companies are in close competition, both providing evidence that additional patients were reached through access strategies such as equitable pricing and voluntary licensing initiatives.

GSK’s performance in R&D is a significant factor in its retention of the top spot. It has access plans covering the largest proportion of late-stage projects (20/25).

Novartis closes in on the No. 1 position through its performance in Product Delivery, and stands out for being the only company to apply equitable access strategies in at least one low-income country for all products assessed.

Governance of Access

The companies demonstrating best practice in Governance of Access are proactive in implementing solid company-wide compliance controls and audits to reduce corruption risk across their business operations.

In addition, companies performing strongly in Governance of Access are actively engaged in measuring the progress and outcomes of their access to medicine initiatives in low- and middle-income countries.

GSK and Takeda lead, followed closely by Novartis. All three demonstrate strong responsible business practices either by enforcing stringent compliance processes across their operations or by setting viable staff incentives.

Research & Development

Best performing companies acknowledge that access plans need to be elaborated in the early stages of their health products’ clinical development to ensure equitable and broad patient access. Top-performing companies establish concrete access planning frameworks and processes which are implemented across their pipelines, both in house and collaborative.

GSK leads with the largest pipeline comprised of projects that target well established treatment priorities, and has a structured process to develop access plans for all projects.

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen follow, scoring well in all areas.

Product Delivery

Equitable pricing strategies are at the heart of patient-oriented business operations. Top-performing companies consider affordability and continuous supply to increase patient reach at all levels of the income pyramid. They enter into supranational procurement agreements and develop patient assistance programmes (PAP) to provide personalised, income-tailored support based on intra-country pricing solutions and economic conditions.

Novartis leads, targeting multiple countries and patient populations across the income pyramid with equitable pricing strategies and responsible IP management.

GSK is second, and both companies leverage their know-how and resources to address local access barriers through their capacity building initiatives.

Access the report here.

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