• Fighting Poor-Quality Medicines in Low- And Middle-Income Countries: The Importance of Advocacy and Pedagogy

      Ravinetto, R; Vandenbergh, D; Macé, C; Pouget, C; Renchon, B; Rigal, J; Schiavetti, B; Caudron, JM (BioMed Central, 2016-11-10)
      The globalization of pharmaceutical production has not been accompanied by a strengthening and harmonization of the regulatory systems worldwide. Thus, the global market is characterized today by a situation of multiple standards, and patients in low- and middle-income countries are exposed to the risk of receiving poor-quality medicines. Among those who first raised the alarm on this problem, there were pioneering humanitarian groups, who were in a privileged position to witness the gap in quality of medicines between high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries. Despite an increasing awareness of the problem and the launch of some positive initiatives, the divide in pharmaceutical quality between the North and the South remains important, and insufficiently addressed. More advocacy is needed for universal access to quality-assured medicines. It should target all those who are strongly "involved" with medicines: regulators, international organizations, journalists, purchasers, prescribers, program managers, policy makers, public health actors and the patients. Advocacy should be based on evidence from research and monitoring programs, and technical concepts should be translated in lay language through communication tools that address all the stakeholders. The fight to ensure universal access to quality medicines needs the participation of all, and can only be successful if grounded in common understanding.
    • Global Health Education in Germany: An Analysis of Current Capacity, Needs and Barriers

      Kaffes, I; Moser, F; Pham, M; Oetjen, A; Fehling, M (BioMed Central, 2016-11-25)
      In times of increasing global challenges to health, it is crucial to create a workforce capable of tackling these complex issues. Even though a lack of GHE in Germany is perceived by multiple stakeholders, no systematic analysis of the current landscape exists. The aim of this study is to provide an analysis of the global health education (GHE) capacity in Germany as well as to identify gaps, barriers and future strategies.
    • Supplementary protection certificates and their impact on access to medicines in Europe: case studies of sofosbuvir, trastuzumab and imatinib

      Hu, Y; Eynikel, D; Boulet, P; Krikorian, G (BioMed Central, 2020-01-14)
      In recent years, there has been increasing pressure on public health systems in high-income countries due to high medicines prices, one of the underlying causes of which are the market monopolies granted to pharmaceutical undertakings. These monopolies have been facilitated by expanded forms of intellectual property protections, including the extension of the exclusivity period after the expiration of the patent term concerning medicinal products. In the European Union such an approach lies in the Supplementary Protection Certificate, a mechanism formally introduced under Regulation 1768/92/EEC (now: Regulation 469/2009/EC, amended). After more than 20 years of implementation since it was first introduced, the common justifications for SPCs are being challenged by recent findings as to their functioning and impact. Similarly, legitimate questions have been voiced as to the negative impact of SPCs on timely access to affordable medicines. On the basis of an analysis of three medicines for hepatitis C and cancer treatments, the present article critically engages with the policy justifications underlying SPCs. It then analyses access challenges to a hepatitis C medicine and an HIV treatment in Europe, highlighting the social cost of the introduction of SPCs. Both the normative and empirical analyses have demonstrated that the common justifications supporting the SPC regime are deeply questionable. The addition of SPC exclusivity has also heavily delayed competition and maintained high medicines prices in European countries. Ultimately, the granting of such extended exclusive private rights on medicines may result in unnecessary suffering and be a factor in the erosion of access to medicines for all.
    • A win-win solution?: A critical analysis of tiered pricing to improve access to medicines in developing countries

      Moon, Suerie; Jambert, Elodie; Childs, Michelle; von Schoen-Angerer, Tido; Harvard Kennedy School and School of Public Health, Boston, USA; Médecins Sans Frontières, Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, Geneva, Switzerland (BioMed Central, 2011-10-12)
      Background: Tiered pricing - the concept of selling drugs and vaccines in developing countries at prices systematically lower than in industrialized countries - has received widespread support from industry, policymakers, civil society, and academics as a way to improve access to medicines for the poor. We carried out case studies based on a review of international drug price developments for antiretrovirals, artemisinin combination therapies, drug-resistant tuberculosis medicines, liposomal amphotericin B (for visceral leishmaniasis), and pneumococcal vaccines. Discussion: We found several critical shortcomings to tiered pricing: it is inferior to competition for achieving the lowest sustainable prices; it often involves arbitrary divisions between markets and/or countries, which can lead to very high prices for middle-income markets; and it leaves a disproportionate amount of decision-making power in the hands of sellers vis-à-vis consumers. In many developing countries, resources are often stretched so tight that affordability can only be approached by selling medicines at or near the cost of production. Policies that “de-link” the financing of R&D from the price of medicines merit further attention, since they can reward innovation while exploiting robust competition in production to generate the lowest sustainable prices. However, in special cases - such as when market volumes are very small or multi-source production capacity is lacking - tiered pricing may offer the only practical option to meet short-term needs for access to a product. In such cases, steps should be taken to ensure affordability and availability in the longer-term. Summary: To ensure access to medicines for populations in need, alternate strategies should be explored that harness the power of competition, avoid arbitrary market segmentation, and/or recognize government responsibilities. Competition should generally be the default option for achieving affordability, as it has proven superior to tiered pricing for reliably achieving the lowest sustainable prices.
    • 'Working to stay healthy', health-seeking behaviour in Bangladesh's urban slums: a qualitative study.

      van der Heijden, J; Gray, N; Stringer, B; Rahman, A; Akhter, S; Kalon, S; Dada, M; Biswas, A (BioMed Central, 2019-05-17)
      BACKGROUND: Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh are the largest slum areas in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 2013, Médecins Sans Frontières initiated an urban healthcare programme in these areas providing services for factory workers and responding to the sexual and reproductive health needs of young women. Little in-depth information is available on perceptions of health and health seeking behaviour in this population. We aimed to provide a better understanding of community perceptions toward health and health care in order to inform programme strategies. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with women (n = 13); factory workers (n = 14); and key informants (n = 13). Participants were selected using purposive maximum variation sampling and voluntarily consented to take part. Topic guides steered participant-led interviews, which were audio-recorded, translated and transcribed from Bangla into English. By comparing cases, we identified emerging themes, patterns and relationships in the data. NVivo11© was used to sort and code the data. RESULTS: Emerging themes indicated that in Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh, health is seen as an asset necessary for work and, thus, for survival. Residents navigate a highly fragmented health system looking for 'quick fixes' to avoid time off work, with the local pharmacy deemed 'good enough' for 'common' health issues. Health care seeking for 'serious' conditions is characterised by uncertainty, confusion, and unsatisfactory results. Decisions are made communally and shaped by collective perceptions of quality care. People with limited socio-economic capital have few options for care. 'Quality care' is perceived as comprehensive care 'under one roof,' including predictive biomedical diagnostics and effective medication, delivered through a trusting relationship with the care provider. CONCLUSIONS: Health seeking behaviour of slum dwellers of Kamrangirchar and Hazaribagh is based on competing priorities, where quick and effective care is key, focussed on the ability to work and generate income. This takes place in a fragmented healthcare system characterised by mistrust of providers, and where navigation is informed by word-of-mouth experiences of peers. Improving health in this context demands a comprehensive and integrated approach to health care delivery, with an emphasis on rapid diagnosis, effective treatment and referral, and improved trust in care providers. Health education must be developed in collaboration with the community to identify knowledge gaps, support decision-making, and be channelled through existing networks. Further research should consider the effectiveness of interventions aiming to improve the practice of pharmacists.