Generic drugs may account for a large part of the global supply, but there are still regions across the world that are unable to access these drugs, says Amsterdam-based Access to Medicine Foundation, which unveiled its framework to assess the impact of generic and biosimilar drugmakers on the ground.

This is a first-of-its-kind assessment of generic companies by the non-profit ATM Foundation that regularly comes out with its index report on multinational companies and their efforts in making drugs accessible. Five of the world’s leading generic and biosimilar medicine manufacturers will be profiled in this initial analysis, including India’s Cipla and Sun Pharmaceutical. The others include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc and Viatris Inc.

“Generic medicines may account for a vast majority of the global supply of pharmaceutical products, with manufacturers producing them at-scale and generally pricing them more cheaply than the originator products. But despite this, many quality-assured generic medicines are simply not available or affordable to large numbers of people living in LMICs (low and middle income countries), the Foundation said.

Markets other than US

There needs to be a mechanism to bring in greater accountability to find out if companies fulfil their commitments in collaborations and in-licensing deals, for instance, said Jayasree K. Iyer, Chief Executive with the ATM Foundation, in an interaction withbusinessline. Several generic drugmakers sell in markets like the US, but the Foundation’s effort is to sensitise them to “not forget other regions”, she said, pointing to Africa and parts of Asia.

The new analytical framework will assess, track and guide manufacturers’ efforts to expand access to their products in LMICs. Explaining why products from generic companies are sometimes not accessible in regions it is needed, Claudia Martinez, ATM Foundation’s Research Programme Manager, said that sometimes the prices were not affordable even on generic products, due to the absence of competition. Generically-similar drugs are usually a lot less expensive when compared to the innovative product, and hence sought by Governments across the world, in an effort to bring down healthcare costs.

The Foundation’s framework will be used to assess companies’ capabilities to expand access to medicine and research on essential products and supply quality products. The Foundation is funded by the Dutch and UK governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust, and AXA Investment Managers.