Access to Medicines
Today, one-third of the world's population lacks access to essential medicines; in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia this figure rises to one-half. Too often in the countries where MSF works, we cannot treat our patients because the medicines are too expensive or they are no longer produced. Sometimes, the only drugs we have are highly-toxic or ineffective, and nobody is looking for a better cure. Since 1999, MSF has been campaigning internationally to find long-term, sustainable solutions to this crisis.
MSF is advocating for a combination of policies to lower drug prices on a sustainable basis; these strategies include encouraging generic competition, voluntary discounts on branded drugs, global procurement, and local production. MSF is also pushing for increased research into neglected diseases – such as tuberculosis, malaria, sleeping sickness, and leishmaniasis – through increased funding, investing in research and development (R&D) capability in developing countries, and supporting alternative models for R&D. To address the issue of abandoned drugs, MSF is calling on companies and governments to find solutions to bring unprofitable but medically necessary drugs back into production. MSF is also supporting developing countries in codifying into law the "safeguards" that are allowed under international trade rules in order to protect access to medicines.
As a medical humanitarian organization, it is fundamentally unacceptable to MSF that access to essential medicines is increasingly impossible, particularly for the most common global infectious diseases. Launched in November 1999, The Access to Essential Medicines Campaign is the vehicle through which MSF has been advocating for lower prices of existing medicines, to bring abandoned drugs back into production, to stimulate research and development for diseases that primarily affect the poor, and to overcome other barriers to access.
Between March 2002 and May 2003, MSF took an interactive traveling exhibit to over 30 cities in 20 states across the U.S. to help raise awareness about the access crisis.
In 2003, MSF joined forces with six other organizations from around the world to establish the Drugs For Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), with the goal of developing new drugs or new formulations of existing drugs for patients suffering from the most neglected communicable diseases. DNDi seeks to address unmet needs by taking on projects that others are unable or unwilling to pursue. Learn more about the DNDi by clicking here.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)